Phil vs. Phil for 23rd
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:15 PM
"The two major-party candidates for state House of Representatives, position 1, in the 23rd District both support greater legislative oversight of the state Department of Ecology.Both support overhauling education funding. Both oppose Initiative 745, Tim Eyman's Son of 695. Both describe themselves as pro-choice. They're even both named Phil.So what are the differences between Democratic incumbent Phil Rockefeller and Republican challenger Phil Rasmussen?Judging by their performances at a Tuesday Eggs and Issues debate, sponsored by the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce, the differences mainly relate to priorities.Rasmussen, a Naval Academy grad who owns a small business in Poulsbo, said his top priority would be protecting property rights, which he characterized as threatened by restrictions aimed at saving endangered salmon species.My first (priority) would be a rational, scientific approach to salmon recovery that would actually recover the salmon, Rasmussen said, instead of just locking up what property owners can do their land.Rasmussen said shoreline property-use restrictions proposed by the state Department of Ecology are in violation of the Washington and United States constitutions, saying, I don't think this has a lot to do with salmon recovery.Rockefeller, a Harvard alum and one-term incumbent, placed saving Kitsap's transportation link to Seattle atop his priority list.My number-one concern is going to be transportation, particularly ferry funding...It's going to be an enormous challenge for us to find that $50 million we need for capital projects, said Rockefeller, referring to the hole left in a ferry budget ravaged by last year's Initiative 695.However, Rockefeller admitted finding new ferry funding sources would require compromises with legislators from other parts of Washington, in areas that don't directly benefit from ferry service.In order to have funding for ferries, we're going to have to have a package of transportation funding that provides for projects around the state, he said.Rockefeller listed as his third priority finding ways to promote savings and efficiency in state government. No. 2 on his list was education funding.The Bainbridge Island Democrat said local levies are likely to remain a fact of life for school districts, but he hopes to make passing them easier.The supermajority (60 percent) requirement is out of date. I would support going to a simple majority as soon as we could muster the will to amend the (state) constitution, Rockefeller said.Rasmussen, whose wife once served on the North Kitsap school board, said he knows how much time and effort local levies require of parents and administrators.We need to get rid of that levy funding, Rasmussen said. I'm in favor of 100 percent funding by the state, so we don't have to have levies every two years.The Libertarian candidate, Dennis Haynes for the position, did not attend the forum.The candidates' stands on other issues included:* Initiatives: Rasmussen supports I-729, which would allow publicly funded charter schools, and I-732, which would require annual cost of living adjustments for teachers. Rockefeller supports I-732 but opposes I-729 and I-728, which would overhaul school funding. Both are against I-745, which would require 90 percent of transportation funds be spent on roads, on the grounds that it could cripple the ferry system.* Abortion: Rockefeller said he supports abortion rights. Rasmussen described himself as pro-choice, but anti-abortion.* Teacher certification: Both called for streamlining teacher certification procedures. "