Candidates debate over ‘Eggs’

Appleton, Cooney debate at breakfast forum

BREMERTON – About 50 people filled the Cloverleaf Tavern in Bremerton during Tuesday’s Eggs and Issues to question the two contenders vying to represent the 23rd district of Washington.

State Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) and her challenger, Republican Larry Cooney of Poulsbo, faced hot issues including the federally mandated tax exemption for Native American tribes, early childhood education, health and medical marijuana.

Each, according to Cooney, is part of the “broken system.”

Concerned residents opened with questions concerning local tribes’ “veto power” on capital projects like the dock in Bremerton.

“Tribes are sovereign nations due to treaties at the federal level. If capital projects have to do with water issues, they have a say,” Appleton said. “Tribes do not have veto power on capital projects.”

Others were concerned about the fairness of the tribes being tax exempt and questioned their impact on the local economy.

Appleton said the local tribes, the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam, put about $56 million back into our local economy each year.

“The tribes do share,” she said. “Federally they do not have to share their gas taxes with us but they decided on their own to give back 25 cents off every dollar.

“That doesn’t sound like much but it adds up and they are coordinating with the county on road projects...,” she continued. “I represent two tribes and I’m proud of it.”

In response, Cooney said he thought it must be easy for the tribes to secure profits before deciding to give some back.

“This isn’t a racial thing, this is a business policy issue,” he said. “To have a tax exemption for the tribes isn’t going to work.”

Cooney also added he doesn’t like the way tribal casinos influence the locale.

“Gaming is a horrendous industry,” Cooney said. “It employs people in the bars and jobs with minimum wages. This is not a glorious industry. It should cough up to benefit Washington state.”

Appleton and Cooney were on separate sides of the argument for education.

In response to a question on whether teachers should be allowed to strike, Appleton said she supports teachers in every way, shape and form.

“They are our most important asset. They teach our children,” she said. “Strikes are civil disobedience. Do teachers have the right to strike? Probably not, but the school district has to uphold their side.”

Cooney, who said he believes government takes on too much in the public school system, said, “I don’t have a lot of confidence in the labor unions. They need to be made accountable.”

In response to a question concerning medical marijuana, Appleton said she previously drafted a bill in support of legalizing it.

Although her draft wasn’t passed in legislature, she said if re-elected she would draft another.

With the proven help medical marijuana provides, Appleton said she would have given it to her husband, whom she lost to cancer, if it were legal.

Cooney said he agrees with the benefits of medical marijuana and said he sees some “legitimate uses” for it including hemp protein. Overall, however, he said “the health system is broken and less people are covered by insurance.”

Eggs and Issues will host North End Commissioner incumbent Steve Bauer and challenger Sandra LaCelle next Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. at the Cloverleaf.

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