Opinion

Rockefeller, Appleton in 23rd District

Voters in the 23rd Legislative District have one easy choice and one tough call Nov. 5.

The smart move for Bainbridge and North Kitsap voters is to retain two-term incumbent Phil Rockefeller over challenger Don Large. More difficult is the choice between incumbent Republican Beverly Woods, whose moderating views are becoming harder to dismiss, and impressive Democrat Sherry Appleton.

With a background as a lawyer and a career in state and federal governments, Rockefeller might be called a “professional legislator” in the best sense. He understands the issues in depth, not simply at the sound-bite level, and has worked towards practical solutions – defined as those that can garner a majority vote, even if they lack ideological purity.

Rockefeller has been attuned to issues important to Bainbridge Island and the 23rd District – transportation, on which he has become a key player in ferry issues, as well as education, health care and the environment.

Don Large, Rockefeller’s challenger, has some interesting ideas; we’re rather intrigued with his proposal for regional gas-tax overrides to pay for specific highway projects. But there is no reason to replace an effective incumbent, and Rockefeller is the clear choice.

In the 23rd District’s other race, incumbent Beverly Woods argues that Kitsap County benefits from having a moderate voice representing its interests within the Republican Party. It’s a compelling notion, particularly if her party recaptures a majority in the state House of Representatives. And Woods appears to be moderating the views that have frustrated us in the past – namely, that we can realize enough “efficiencies” in government to have better service and lower taxes at the same time. Significantly, she now calls a gasoline-tax hike to fund transportation inevitable.

Nevertheless, Sherry Appleton is our pick. We agree with her that the best way to promote economic development is to create an infrastructure, a physical environment and an education system that will draw businesses and people to the area. And we agree that it’s a fantasy to suppose we can plug the state’s yawning budget shortfall through short-term gimmicks like a hiring freeze.

Washington’s elected representatives need to level with the voters, which means telling them that the choices are draconian cuts in services or higher taxes of some sort. Woods appears to be moving in the right direction, but Appleton is already there, which makes her our choice.

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The Review’s endorsement schedule:

Oct. 9: Referendum 51 – Yes

Oct. 19: 1st Congressional District – Inslee

Oct. 23: Kitsap County ballot propositions and races – Tim Botkin for county commissioner; Yes on county tax lid-lift; Yes on Public Facilities District sales-tax measure

Today: 23rd District House races – Rockefeller and Appleton

Wednesday: State ballot measures

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