Incumbent Drew Hansen (D) is facing off against newcomer Paige Jarquin (R) for the Position 2 seat in the state’s 23rd Legislative District.
Hansen has held the seat since 2011. He is chair of the Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee and has been selected to the state’s “Super Lawyers” list every year since 2013, according to the voters pamphlet. Hansen’s education includes Harvard University, Oxford University (Rhodes Scholar) and Yale Law School. His priorities include helping people get good jobs so they can support their families. He brought new college opportunities to Kitsap, expanded Olympic College’s engineering program, protected marine industry jobs and passed bipartisan legislation expanding public broadband.
Jarquin has 17 years of Realtor experience and 10 years as a business owner, according to the voters pamphlet. For community service, she has volunteered over 6,500 hours in the last seven years including fundraising coordinator/captain and onsite staffing for Bob Hope USO LAX; active East Bremerton Rotary member; and active volunteer with Operation Homefront, providing military family support. Her priorities include addressing the rise in crime, increased cost of living, infringement on personal liberties and effectively stewarding money.
Below are some questions and responses from both candidates from the Oct. 17 League of Women Voters — Kitsap forum.
What are your funding priorities and would you consider cutting some corporate tax breaks?
Hansen: It is not likely we are going to be spending lots of new money from Olympia next year. With inflation high you have to give public employees some kind of raises otherwise they’re going to quit. In our law firm, we gave raises last year and midway through this year so you got to do about the same to keep your workforce. Once you do that, you’re about done with major investments except for the ferries, which operate in a different budget. I met with the Transportation chair (recently) who is completely convinced that we need to make significant new investments on top of the investments we made last year, which were already the most substantial since I’ve been in Olympia.
Jarquin: I would address the increase in crime that we’ve had. There were some bills that were passed in 2021 and even the individuals that passed them understand that they are not working the way that they intended to. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in crime. Not just personal crime, but crime that has affected business owners. We need to reform that back. Until we all feel safe, it really doesn’t matter how much money we have. The next thing would be to bring some tax relief to families. I think there’s a number of ways to address that. I would also like to work a little bit on education.
What can the legislature do to address homelessness and affordable housing?
Jarquin: There’s two aspects of affordable housing…how we provide low-income housing to individuals that are needing it and that includes transitional housing for people who are homeless. That all has to be funded and right now what I’m hearing from most communities locally is that funds and resources are not there. The other aspect of housing is building homes that are affordable for individuals that live here now. The regulations that are coming down for new building are very expensive and makes it difficult for builders to build.
Hansen: Probably one of the best strategies for addressing homelessness is something we’ve done in Kitsap County. Pendleton Place is a new supported housing development. The idea is under one roof you have a place to stay, mental health support, healthcare support, substance abuse support, and so on. More generally on the supply side, we need a lot more homes in areas that are already zoned for density. I’ve been a big supporter of loosening the restrictions around ADU’s to provide as many opportunities as we can for people to rent or eventually to buy.
Would you support increasing funds for schools?
Hansen: Last year, we took about $600 million over the biennium to have nurses, counselors and therapists in all public schools. Let’s remember that we’ve roughly doubled total spending on the K-12 school system to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. I think we need to make sure we are looking at what we’re doing in an era where enrollment in some districts is declining. I’m aware we don’t fund special education the way we should. We need to do more of that at the state level.
Jarquin: I’m actually a strong supporter of school choice. Primarily, I think parents are unhappy with the way our schools are being run. I don’t know if more funding is going to fix that problem. Right now, I don’t think parents feel heard. I think we are paying a lot of money per student and if we continue to decline in enrollment that’s going to hurt our public schools.
What can the legislature do to help our medical crisis?
Hansen: We need to look at what mergers and consolidations do to output the quality of care because that is exactly what we’re seeing. When you get rid of choices, sure enough you get worse care because there isn’t competition. That’s something the legislature will focus on next session. We have a nursing shortage. Thanks to one of my bills, we expanded nursing faculty pay at community colleges so for the first time OC was able to hire a full complement of nursing faculty. We probably need to do more of that because we are still in a nursing shortage. We also need to think more creatively whether it’s a public hospital district or anything else in order to get more choices for people in Kitsap County.
Jarquin: We can’t ignore the elephant in the room and that’s the staffing issues that we’re suffering because of the mandates. The mandates for vaccination for medical professionals, given all the information we’ve acquired about vaccines over the last six months, seems out of place. I think it’s time to roll back the mandates on vaccinations for all of our healthcare professionals and allow those nurses to come back in. We’re paying an exorbitant amount of money for traveling nurses because our local nurses do not want to be forced into having a vaccine that in their opinion doesn’t work or for whatever reason they don’t want to have it.
Do you support police reform or do you think it should be changed?
Hansen: When we passed a number of bills related to law enforcement use of force, the idea was to create a state where people have trust in law enforcement, and law enforcement has to tools to do their job. We did not get the balance right on every bill. Some I have supported revisiting, for example the chase rule. You want law enforcement to chase people in high-risk situations but you want to make sure you’re careful because that’s when bystanders can die.
Jarquin: Reform is necessary but we also need to get more creative with other solutions. We need to listen better to police when they are telling us things aren’t working. One solution is providing more K9 units. You are using dogs to do the things that police can’t do. You’ll have less physical interaction between police and the suspect, you can send dogs into a place to bring suspects out or subdue them without the use of pepper spray and guns.