My name is Seth Fleetwood and I am running for Washington state Senate in the 42nd District. For 12 years I served as a nonpartisan member of the Bellingham city and Whatcom County councils. I was an active council member seeking to identify issues of public concern and addressing them in fair and effective ways. I have always worked well with people of differing views and sought to find common ground.
I grew up in Bellingham in a politically divided family. My father was raised in a poor family during the Great Depression who regarded Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a hero. My mother came from the family of a proud small-business owner who regarded the policies of Roosevelt as big government intrusion.
Growing up I listened to my Democratic dad and Republican uncles argue passionately over politics on summer evenings. I thought that both made good points but they could never agree on anything until they ran out of steam and the topic came back to fishing or baseball. I came to appreciate the truth in both points of view.
Perhaps this is why I don't always toe the party line. I voted against red light cameras and against the fireworks ban. I've caught flack from one side or the other but I've never thought that one group owns all the answers. Like many of us, I vote independently and I vote my values.
Lately, I've been troubled by the legislative gridlock we've seen in the news. While the Senate pushed our state to the brink of government shutdown our needs in Whatcom County went unaddressed. Our schools are overcrowded, our roadways in disrepair and our small businesses are struggling. It's time to stop the D.C.-style bickering and get things done.
The need for good paying jobs is our top priority. The failure of the Senate to pass a capital and transportation package cost Whatcom County 1,000 new jobs - jobs that would have stimulated our local economy while improving our local infrastructure. In Olympia, I will support our small businesses; I propose that Washington state businesses get the first crack at state contracts so we create jobs here, not overseas.
We must improve our public education system. Washington has some of the most overcrowded classrooms and unaffordable college tuition in our country. My opponent supported budget gimmicks, borrowing debt, and one-time fixes leading to the state being sued for contempt for underfunding education. His present plan is to fund education by cutting programs that vulnerable students need to learn. I want to increase funding for schools by closing outdated corporate tax loopholes so children get the education they deserve.
I will be a champion for a clean environment and protector of our natural resources. I am proud of my record preserving farmland, avoiding sprawl and protecting Lake Whatcom.
I am a champion of personal freedoms. I believe government should stay out of our private lives. I support equal pay for woman and am pro-choice. I believe responsible people have the right to own guns. I will oppose a state income tax because two thirds of the people in the 42nd District have voiced their opposition to it.
I think we've all had enough of government that represents special interests, not the people. During my time in office I sought to represent the interests of the entire community. My opponent can be relied on to always represent the corporate interests; they deserve a voice too, but a voting record should reflect independence not sole allegiance to a particular group. In his 16 years in the legislature he's gotten to know corporate lobbyists and donors too well and his record reflects that. We've seen it on issue after issue whether it be oil trains, toxic chemicals or corporate tax loopholes.
I am running to end gridlock in Olympia and to restore a productive, working, majority in the State Senate. I believe the fundamental job of good government is to make substantial progress in resolving problems of public concern. I have always been accessible to my constituents and make time for everyone. I'd like to take what I have learned to Olympia as your next Senator. I'd appreciate your vote.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This is one of a series of commentaries from candidates in the Aug. 5 primary election. Seth Fleetwood, D., is a candidate 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.