Eickmeyer urges full funding of education
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:07 AM
"It's been a long time since William Ike Eickmeyer, the 35th Legislative District position 2 Democratic incumbent from Belfair, has had to sing for his supper.The representative whose voice earned him a reputation as a singer in his family's hometown near Pasco is running for his second elected term in the Legislature. He was appointed to finish Sen. Tim Sheldon's term when Sheldon won election to the Senate three years ago.When a member of the audience at a recent voters' forum voiced concern about traffic congestion and tolls to use the proposed new Tacoma Narrows bridge, Eickmeyer said I know where my constituents travel, I travel on those routes also.Our transportation needs are overwhelming but we can't short-change the ferry system, he said.Funding ferries is so important to the communities ... not only our economic way of life, but everything we do in the county has to do with getting across the water, Eickmeyer said. We've got to protect our regular and foot ferries.He suggested that one possible temporary source of funding could be the formerly $601 million budget reserve.But he said, We've already take out $320 million, leaving the reserve way below the $1 billion he believes the state should have for exigencies so it doesn't have to raise taxes.But with the needs for education and transportation we're not going to have it, because were taking a chance reacting to the needs of today, he said.He also believes the state should do away with property taxes and levies to pay for schools and should battle current inequities by fully funding education.Rural areas get short shrift because of the way the system is set up he said, with the differences in urban and rural property values.Rural areas have to pay the same amount for buses, roof repairs, maintenance, as the rest of us. In Seattle it might be less because property values are higher. But (in Kitsap) we have the lowest employment and highest demand to support schools, he said.Eickmeyer also wants to delay implementation of the Shoreline Management Act until after the next legislative session in order to get a better picture of what actually is happening with the environment and salmon habitat.He said he's very concerned the federal government is not playing an even hand as far as salmon recovery and that many government reports do not have scientific basis.You don't make rules and regulations that take people's property and restrict the use of it until you know darn good and well what's causing the problem, he said.I'm not going to Olympia as a player, I'm doing things that will provide policy and real help ... (that will) work for the needs ... in my district, he said.Eickmeyer grew up on a farm north of Spokane. He attended Columbia Basin Community College, where he had scholarships for music and football after serving in the Army in the years between the Korean and Vietnam wars.He later transferred to Western Washington University.I worked a lot of jobs - school bus driver, gandy dancer (for the railroads), purchasing agent with Lockheed, apartment building manager ... just surviving as a student, he said. Married, with two children at the time, I wanted my family ... not to pay the price for my being a student.But it was his talent as a singer, well-known in his home community, that brought him to Seattle.While singing in the Rathskeller at the 1952 World Fair, he decided he wanted to move to the area. He later settled in Belfair.He also changed his major from education. I couldn't get a class I wanted, so I took a course in applied anthropology. It's a mix of sociology and anthropology ... and I fell in love with it, he said.One of his first jobs was as a counselor with the Mission Creek Youth Forestry Camp, a government program in Belfair.He continued in social work, creating a program now known as the Sound Institute of Family and Children Services, of which he is the executive director. The Sound Institute also did contract work for the Department of Health and Social Service for the Regional Crisis Resident Center, a 24-hour service for young people in crisis.Eickmeyer has four grown children and five grandchildren. "