Five questions with Sen. Ericksen:
You have served Whatcom County for a lot of years in the Legislature, why are you seeking another term?
Serving the people of Whatcom County is a an honor and a great challenge. Over the past four years we have put in place the foundations to do some great things locally and statewide. A four-year balanced budget, two-third of all new tax money to schools, prioritizing toxic clean ups on the Bellingham and Blaine waterfronts, and doing it all without raising taxes are just some of the great things that we need to build upon in the coming years.
Is Olympia really as partisan as some people claim, like Washington, D.C.?
No. With strong Senate leadership we passed the most bi-partisan budgets that anyone in Olympia can remember - 44 yes votes and 4 no votes in 2013 followed by 48 yes votes and 1 no vote in 2014.
The Majority Coalition Caucus is the only one of its kind in America with Democrats and Republicans co-chairing committees, chairing committees and serving in top leadership positions. There are differences, but we have chosen to seek common ground.
You serve as Chairman of the Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee. How does this help the people of Whatcom County?
In a word -- jobs. I made the clean up of contaminated sites a priority. Now the Bellingham waterfront will be cleaned up faster, creating jobs, and put back into economic development sooner, creating jobs. The same will happen in Blaine and all throughout Washington.
We proved that environmental protection and high quality energy/manufacturing jobs can co-exist. I lead the charge on oil-by-rail safety, which will create jobs locally and protect our safety as we move towards energy independence.
I created New Energy Thursdays in Olympia to highlight and focus on new energy opportunities, many of which are located right here in Whatcom County - yes - creating jobs.
What are your major goals for the next legislative session?
My first goal is to balance the budget without raising taxes, dedicate two-thirds of spending increases to schools, and build upon the progress of the last four years. Important legislation needs to be passed on water issues for local farmers. We should allow voters the opportunity to place the two-thirds requirement to raise taxes in our constitution.
We must dedicate more time to improving the regulatory and tax climate for small businesses. We kept Boeing here, but we need to do more to keep small, medium and large businesses thriving, hiring and expanding.
There are many other priorities that I will highlight in the coming months. I always encourage people to contact me on what issues they believe should be addressed in the next legislative session.
How does your family feel about you serving in the legislature?
To be honest, it is a challenge. Tasha and I were married during our first campaign for public office. Our daughters have grown up attending chamber meetings, breakfast speeches and legislative hearings. The entire family is committed to creating a better Washington and I am committed to creating a better place for my kids, and your kids. Freedom is not passed down in the bloodstream. Our quality of life and job opportunities are not automatically transferred from one generation to the next. Each generation must defend our freedoms and pass them on - they must protect our quality of life and our economic base and pass it on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This is one of a series of commentaries from candidates in the Aug. 5 primary election. Doug Ericksen, R. is the incumbent for Washington state Senator from the 42nd District. Both candidates in the primary will be on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. The 42nd district includes all of Whatcom County except south Bellingham and southwest Whatcom County.