Oct. 2 Daily News editorial
When a newcomer hopes to unseat a well-established incumbent for elected office, the challenger ought to offer some specific suggestions on what he or she would accomplish in office.
We haven't heard any such proposals from Dixie Kolditz of Cathlamet. So we recommend that voters return Rep. Dean Takko of Longview to a fifth term representing District 19 in Olympia.
Takko, D-Longview, understands local issues and voters well. He's lived in Southwest Washington all of his life, first working in the Wahkiakum County assessor's office before moving to the Cowlitz County assessor's office. Takko, 62, was the elected Cowlitz County Assessor for five years before going to the Legislature. His resume includes being a volunteer firefighter.
Takko said he focuses on issues of importance in his district rather than making waves on statewide controversies. "I'm not out there trying to grab headlines. I'm just trying to get something done," he said.
For instance, Takko favored legislation on biomass and dredge spoil dumping that may not be the hottest of hot-button issues in Olympia, though the bills benefitted local businesses. He has urged the Department of Fish and Wildlife to maximize clam-digging opportunities at the coast, and he's now involved in discussions about restructuring commercial fishing on the Columbia River.
Takko is trying to lower state Labor and Industries workers compensation insurance rates, and attempted to make it easier for applicants to get shorelines permits.
With his often business-friendly focus, it's not surprising that Takko is one of only six Democrats (along with 33 Republicans) to be endorsed by the Association of Washington Business. (The AWB also endorses the other two 19th District members of the centrist Roadkill Caucus, Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, and Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen.)
Against Takko's record of steady if not splashy service, Kolditz, 37, offered generalities when both candidates met last week with TDN's Editorial Board. She touted her experience starting two businesses and said she'd work to create more jobs if elected. As a legislator, she said, she would asked business owners what their problems are, then act accordingly, which struck us as basically a "trust me" approach.
On several issues, the candidates differ markedly.
"Government should be run like a business," Kolditz said.
"Government and business have nothing in common," Takko countered, pointing out that it has an obligation to offer services to people who can't afford to pay for them.
Kolditz said she'd look into why student test scores are falling before obligating more state funding for education.
Takko said the Legislature must cope now with the state Supreme Court's McGeary ruling earlier this year. The court ruled that the state isn't meeting its constitutional obligation to pay for basic public education. That, Takko said, is the "800-pound gorilla in the room."
Kolditz said she favors Initiative 1185, which would reinstate the two-thirds majority approval or a vote of the people to raise taxes. "You have to go with what the people have said," she said.
Takko countered that he feels I-1185 is unconstitutional and that, in any case, it gives legislative minorities too much control over what gets passed and what doesn't.
Kolditz, who grew up in a segregated township in South Africa and became a U.S. citizen in 2004, has a remarkable life story. However, her passion for free market ideals fell short of convincing us that she'd be an effective legislator. We think the district would be best-served by electing Takko to another term.