Insider Appleton, outsider Ducheane aim at Woods

Two Democrats vying to take on Poulsbo Republican Beverly Woods for a seat in the state House of Representatives see things from different perspectives.

Sherry Appleton has seen government from the inside, as a Poulsbo City Council member and a lobbyist in Olympia.

She says government employees generally do a good job, but the state needs legislators willing to make tough calls without worrying about re-election.

“I haven’t been convinced the people there now have the wherewithal to make tough decisions,” Appleton said.

Terrell Ducheane, a Bremerton real-estate investor and former mechanic and automobile racer, sees things from the outside.

He says state government generally works poorly, and while he admits he doesn’t have all the solutions to the state’s pressing problems, he says he’ll talk to those who do.

“Health care is in as bad shape as the schools and our infrastructure is a bloody disaster,” Ducheane said.

The winner in the Sept. 17 primary will take on Woods, a one-and-a-half-term incumbent who became part of the Republican leadership in the House last year as deputy whip.

The 23rd District takes in Bainbridge Island and the northern portions of the Kitsap Peninsula, including Poulsbo and Silverdale.

Rep. Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island) holds the other House seat from the district. He is being challenged by Bremerton auto-parts dealer Don Large, but neither faces a primary opponent.

“No gloss, no take, no bull” is what candidate Ducheane is promising as he makes his first try for a state office in about 20 years. In the early 1980s, he made an unsuccessful bid in the 26th District, but still influenced creation of the Washington State Parenting Act in the mid-1980s.

His top priority is school reform to save what he called the “lost generation.” That, he said, will require improvements to educational methods.

Ducheane favors dropping the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, an exam he called “dishonest testing” because it forces schools to instruct only on those areas covered by the test, and because, in his view, it leads to short-term memorization of information on the test that is quickly lost thereafter.

“I haven’t talked to a single person who favors the test,” he said.

He advocates year-round schools, less administration and higher teacher pay.

Ducheane has few kind words for corporate America.

“The corporate destruction of our society economically and environmentally must end,” he said. “Over the past half-century, they have destroyed our economy by taking manufacturing out of the country, resulting in our changing to mostly service industries.

“Economies are not sustained on service.”

Despite those calls for system improvements, Ducheane does not want more state spending. He says legislators need to do a better job of setting priorities, and suggests omitting or postponing large capital projects such as the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and renovation of the state Capitol building.

He would consider a personal income tax, he says, but only if the sales tax is eliminated.

“I’ve talked to people in other states that have that arrangement, and they seem to be pretty happy with it,” he said.

He supports R-51, the $7.7 billion hike in gas and other transportation-related taxes to finance a highway construction and transit and ferry improvements, but would like to see the proposed 10-year spending plan compressed to five years. He says the gas-tax increase should not become a permanent fixture.

“It has been a good campaign,” he said. “Some people I’ve talked to are bloody angry.”

Appleton has already set her sights on Woods. Her platform questions the incumbent’s voting record, and claims Woods has been “irresponsible” with everything from finances and the environment to workers, health care and education.

The idea that the state can plug its present budget deficit without more revenue is “simplistic,” she says.

“There is not $2 billion worth of waste and mismanagement,” she said. “Our tax structure is so archaic – we need to be looking at real tax reform.”

She would be consider a state personal-income tax, and some increase in the motor-vehicle tax.

“I don’t want to go back to $700,” she said, “but we have to fund the programs that are the most important, and if that means raising the tabs, okay.”

The tax she wants to get rid of is the business-and-occupations tax, which taxes the gross receipts of many businesses whether they are profitable or not.

Claiming that the state and especially Kitsap County are at a “critical juncture,” Appleton pointed to her long-standing relationship with regional unions, councils and state officials as something she said will help her make a difference in Olympia.

She has lived in Poulsbo for 21 years, served on the city council for eight (1985-1993) and is a commissioner with the Washington State Advisory Commission to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct.

She is also a lobbyist for labor organizations and groups that represent criminal defense attorneys.

She also backs the upcoming state transportation package, which she says will allow the state the flexibility it needs to heal ailing infrastructure.

Health care and Medicaid are big issues for Appleton.

“I truly believe that as a society we have an obligation to people who can’t care for themselves,” she said, noting that she supports prescription-drug legislation, solutions for long-term care and nursing home regulation.

“By 2030, 30 percent of the people in Washington will be over the age of 65 and 15 percent of them will be over the age of 85. We need to solve the problem now, not 30 years from now.

“When we turn our backs on vulnerable people it’s not much of a society,” she said.

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