Islander bids to unseat Sheldon
June 9, 2008 · Updated 2:57 PM
"Vowing to streamline government regulations, fully fund the ferry system and cap property taxes, Republican Dan Murphy has launched a campaign for the state senate.Murphy, a Bainbridge Island attorney, has launched a campaign to unseat Democrat Betti Sheldon, 23rd District incumbent.And the principle issue in Murphy's campaign is the local economy. Kitsap County could be enjoying the prosperity of the Eastside, but we don't have the leadership, said Murphy, who labeled his specific proposals sub-issues tied to future economic weal.Murphy believes that excessive government regulation, particularly the state's Growth Management Act, is chasing business away, with another negative factor being the uncertainties surrounding the ferry system. And, he says, excessively high property taxes are forcing fixed-income people out of the area. What is required is a vision of where Kitsap County needs to be, Murphy said.Originally from Illinois, the 38-year-old Murphy graduated from Notre Dame University and was a naval aviator until 1994. After earning business and law degrees from the University of Illinois, he moved to Bainbridge Island in 1998 with his wife Lynn and their two children.He practices law out of his home, and he and his wife run a management consulting and executive-search firm.Murphy said that in becoming involved with Republican politics and surveying the field, he believes he has the best shot at beating Sheldon, the Senate majority floor leader.So far, he is the only announced Republican candidate seeking the post. The district encompasses central and northern Kitsap County, including Bainbridge Island.Murphy said the Growth Management Act creates overlapping regulatory layers that inhibit business formation, and he advocated reducing or eliminating state oversight, giving localities more decision-making power. At the same time, he called the attitude of the Kitsap County Commission - currently occupied by three Democrats - as anti-growth, and said voters would have to elect a pro-business commission for state-level policies and decisions to be effective.He also called for review of local environmental regulations, saying that shoreline protection measures hit Kitsap County particularly hard because of its abundance of waterfront.Murphy faults the state Legislature for not fully restoring the ferry system's operating budget to replace money lost to Initiative 695. It's inexcusable to have a $1 billion surplus, and not fully fund the ferry system, he said. But he applauded the dramatic cuts in the state's tax-equalization fund that provided money for cities with low sales-tax receipts, such as Bainbridge Island.We have made a lifestyle choice not to emphasize retail development, he said. Other areas shouldn't have to pay for that.As for property-tax control, Murphy said a past year such as 1992 should be used as a basis, and that taxes should be limited to that level, adjusted for inflation.At the same time, he also called for a reduction in the taxes imposed on business. He particularly criticized business and occupations taxes, leveled on gross receipts irrespective of whether a business is profitable.Murphy said he believes greater efficiencies could make lower taxes work without cutting services. For example, he said that the state's welfare caseload has decreased, but the number of caseworkers has not. He advocates greater use of competitive contracts for state-furnished services, saying that state labor costs are too high. And he urged a complete analysis of every department, to see what services are duplicated.If those measures don't yield sufficient savings, Murphy said a state income tax might have to be discussed. I'm not saying I'm in favor of it, and it would certainly take a vote of the people, Murphy said. But if you reduce the inefficiencies first, then you might have to talk about an income tax, provided that you then reduce or eliminate other taxes.Murphy's Bainbridge Island campaign kickoff event will be a chili bake from 4-7 p.m. this Sunday, May 7, at 912 Isaac Avenue. Further information is available through the campaign's headquarters at 780-1827. "