House race now Phil R. vs. Phil R.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:01 PM
"When the campaigning is done and the last vote counted, voters in the 23rd Legislative District will have their Phil.Republican Phil Rasmussen, a Poulsbo businessman and mechanical engineer, will oppose incumbent Democrat Phil Rockefeller of Bainbridge Island for the seat in the state House of Representatives.Ferry service is at the top of Rasmussen's agenda.We need to shift funding within the ferry system to cut the least economical runs and focus on the most economical ones, he said this week. And the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry is at the top of his list.The Bainbridge Island ferry run compares well on a cost-benefit basis with any mass transit in the country, Rasmussen said. There needs to be a third boat on that run all the time, because now, there are backups mid-day and mid-winter.The least economical runs, he said, are the passenger-only ferries. He would consider privatizing those.More generally, Rasmussen said he thinks the state government should be doing a better job of providing infrastructure, including highways. It seems like the Democrats have an agenda not to fund highways, he said. But spending money on highways increases public safety - freeways are much safer than four-lane roads. And it's good for the environment, because cars idling pollute.He proposes paying for those measures by trimming social service programs, finding efficiencies, and competing more aggressively for federal funds.The federal government is interested in funding mass transit now, Rasmussen said. If it would mean more money, maybe we should start calling the ferries mass transit.As for replacing the ferry funds lost to Initiative 695, Rasmussen said, I have no specific answers for ferry stability. But obviously, that's a key issue.The 23rd District covers north Kitsap County, including Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo and Silverdale. Position 1 incumbent Rockefeller had briefly considered running for state lands commissioner last month, but rejected that possibility in favor of seeking re-election.Rasmussen acknowledges he's running principally in hopes of recapturing a seat for the Republicans - and says he has few specific disagreements with Rockefeller.But with the House evenly divided at 49 seats for each party, Rasmussen hopes to strike a blow against what he calls the in-your-face style of government that the Democrats do.He is specifically critical of state Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn, whose policies he claims led Bremerton-based Kitsap Physicians Service into receivership, and Lands Commissioner Jennifer Belcher, for her stand against liveaboards.Liveaboards should be restricted health-wise, the same as everybody else, but we should not repeal a way of life, Rasmussen said. The 60-year-old Rasmussen is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and has a graduate degree in oceanography from the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, California. He was a Navy SEAL in Vietnam, and won the bronze star.His varied professional career includes stints as a homebuilder in California, a naval engineer and a software designer. Currently, he is majority owner of a business park, and mini-storage and truck-rental business in Poulsbo.Sounding a Republican theme, Rasmussen assails what he calls excessive regulation and intrusion on private property rights. Specifically, he criticizes current proposals to require stream and shoreline setbacks in the name of protecting salmon in Kitsap County.I'm in favor of saving the salmon, he said. But I don't think the stream setbacks will have any impact.There is a stream running through my property that is dammed at the mouth, so it doesn't have any salmon, he said. But the shotgun approach to setbacks would still apply. I'm against restrictions that can't possibly do any good.One move Rasmussen does favor to preserve the stock of wild salmon is eliminating commercial fish pens statewide, including operations such as the salmon farm operations off South Beach Drive on Bainbridge.You can't have both salmon pens and wild salmon, he said, in part because the fish food is a polluting nutrient. If salmon are endangered, we need to do things to save them, and unfortunately, some people are going to get hurt.Rasmussen and his wife Cindy, a former member and president of the North Kitsap School Board, live on Sandy Hook Road just north of the Agate Passage bridge. "