Rockefeller, Lord make their cases to voters

On Nov. 4, 23rd District state Sen. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) hopes to retain the leadership position he’s held for the past four years, while Poulsbo City Councilwoman Connie Lord is optimistic voters will decide it’s time for a change.

The two candidates faced each other at Tuesday’s Eggs and Issues forum sponsored by the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce at the Cloverleaf Sports Bar and Grill. They answered questions on issues ranging from abortion to climate change, posed by a standing-room only crowd.

“I’m running because we’ve got to have change in Olympia,” Lord said. “They’re putting more and more of the burden on the people.”

The extra tax burden is something Lord said the Poulsbo City Council doesn’t put on its constituents because it balances its budget each and every year.

“We don’t spend money on projects we can’t afford,” Lord said.

Rockefeller responded in his opening remarks that as a state senator he has championed a similar balanced financial approach and has gotten results.

“We balance our budget and we will continue to do so,” he said. “We have done it and we will do it again.”

Although the state is facing a revenue shortfall in the next biennium of funding, Rockefeller said legislators will balance the budget without having to raise taxes like it did in 2005.

One of the ways that will occur is by implementing many of the recommendations set forth by State Auditor Brian Sonntag to increase efficiency in government, Rockefeller said.

With Kitsap County’s reliance on the state’s ferries system as a major means of transportation, Rockefeller said he believes there is a solution to the system’s lack of capital funding without raising fares.

“I would like to add half a cent to the gas tax, but there is not enough support for it yet,” he said. “I think that would be a responsible way to recapitalize the ferry system.”

One of the keys to obtaining enough support to pass the gas tax increase in Olympia is for legislators statewide to understand the ferries system isn’t just a ferries system, it’s a “marine highway system,” Rockefeller said.

Lord agreed a way must be found to recapitalize the ferries system and it needs to be done by finding ways to improve efficiencies and working with the state Department of Transportation to ensure the system is adequately funded.

The two sharply disagreed on the issue of climate change and the necessity of government regulation to protect the environment.

“The science is still out on that one,” Lord said. “I think it’s very arrogant at taxpayers’ cost to believe the state of Washington can make any kind of difference on global warming.”

Rockefeller said the science isn’t out, but has made a solid case for the need for government regulation.

“It’s overwhelmingly clear that we are having an impact and it’s not a good one,” he said.

On the abortion issue, Lord said she believes life begins at conception, but said women need to be protected from life-threatening pregnancies.

“I would rather err on the side of moral caution than expediency,” Lord said.

Rockefeller said he supports the current abortion laws and asked, “What gives us a state the right to invade her privacy and make that decision for her?”

If Lord wins the Nov. 4 election, a decision will have to be made regarding her current Poulsbo City Council seat because her term doesn’t expire until 2012 as she was re-elected to another four-year term last year.

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