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Patch Candidate Q&A: Gerry Pollet, 46th District Representative Position 1

Improving education, including affordable access to college, is the top priority in the district, Pollet says.

NAME: Rep. Gerry Pollet

OFFICE SOUGHT: State Representative 46th District Position 1 (incumbent)

PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat

TOWN OF RESIDENCE: Northeast Seattle

CURRENT OCCUPATION: UW School of Public Health; State Representative; and, Director of Heart of America Northwest, citizens group working for the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I teach at the UW School of Public Health, and also run a program for law students interested in pursuing public interest law careers. After graduating from the UW School of Law, I have devoted my career to working in the public interest to protect consumers and our environment. I have worked with neighborhood and public school groups throughout the District for many years, from efforts to lower class sizes to preserve streams and prevent flooding in Kenmore and Lake Forest Park. As Director of WashPIRG and Heart of America Northwest, I have drafted and led the successful coalition lobbying efforts to pass some of our state’s most important consumer and environmental protection laws. As Director of Heart of America Northwest, I led the initiative and efforts to stop use of Hanford as a national radioactive waste dump, and for cleanup of the most contaminated area in North America.

WEBSITE: www.gerrypollet.com

WHAT IS THE MOST PRESSING ISSUE FACING VOTERS IN YOUR DISTRICT?

Improving education – from full-day kindergarten to lower class sizes, and restoring affordable access to our colleges and universities – is our top obligation and concern throughout the 46th District.

It’s important to have a Representative active in our public schools. I teach at the UW School of Public Health, and I’m one of only 2 legislators from all of Seattle’s and North Lake Washington’s legislative seats with children in our public schools, or who volunteers in our schools!

Every candidate says they are “for education.” The key questions are:

     1) How will they fund education?; and,

     2) Whether they understand the challenges in our local schools?

 We can’t pay for schools and provide the health care we need, without making our tax system more fair and closing massive loopholes which have given away billions in recent years without creating jobs. Those loopholes increase the burden on working families, making our state’s tax system the most unfair one in the nation!

I’m introducing legislation to make our tax system more fair by closing corporate loopholes and dedicating the funds to education: full-day kindergarten, four years of English and math for high school, and restoring access by lowering college tuition. This year, I led the successful effort to save college work study and Need Grants – preserving access for thousands of our community college and four year college students!

I ask to continue serving as your State Representative to make our tax system more fair, support our schools, and protect our environment and consumers.

IF ELECTED, WHAT WILL YOU DO IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS IN OFFICE TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE?

As your Representative, I’m already working to fund early learning, full-day kindergarten and lower class sizes. I have legislation to close corporate special interest loopholes and dedicate the funding to these purposes and to restore access to colleges.

At the UW, where I teach, I have students with $100,000 in loans. Tuition is now over 20% of our state’s median family income. That’s not affordable.  I’m working to return tuition to 10%, as it was five years ago.

When corporations get a tax break, under my legislation, they will have to certify that they created family wage jobs with those tax dollars, or they shouldn’t be able to claim the exemption or tax preference. That’s fair, and it creates jobs while making the tax system more fair and providing revenue for our schools.

I’m a sponsor of bills to close the out-of-state sales tax exemption and dedicate the funds to full-day kindergarten, and for the tax on dividend income over $200,000 a year. This would produce $500 million a year for schools!

To make health care affordable, I will have legislation requiring insurance companies to use common electronic claims forms. That will also save the state millions.

As a consumer advocate, I’m the legislator who led the consumer protection effort to stop towing companies from charging up to $2,000 to get your car back if you park in the wrong spot. I got the bill through the House and will return to ensure it becomes law next year.

DO YOU SUPPORT/OPPOSE REFERENDUM 74: SHOULD GAY MARRIAGE BE LEGAL IN WASHINGTON? BRIEFLY, WHY?

I support Marriage Equality and the vote to approve R-74. This is a fundamental question of fairness. I was proud to vote to pass marriage equality in the Legislature. For many years, I have watched as friends, and especially students, suffer the indignity of not having hope of having their loving, committed relationship recognized as a marriage. This hurts. The State has no business choosing which two loving people who commit to marry get the benefits of marriage in our State. As a strong supporter of marriage equality and civil rights, I am the sole endorsed candidate of Equal Rights Washington for this position.

As I knock on doors throughout the District, I have spoken to many people about R-74. I’ve found many neighbors who have realized for the first time that the couple they have over for barbeques or coffee want to be married just like other couples in the neighborhoods. And, why shouldn’t they be able to have a marriage license from the State?

DO YOU SUPPORT/OPPOSE, INITIATIVE 502 TO MAKE SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA LEGAL TO PEOPLE 21 AND OLDER? BRIEFLY, WHY?

Yes. Prohibition does not work. It’s time to remove sales from the criminal cartels, which will reduce violence.

We need to reduce the arrests and costs for incarcerating people for small amounts of marijuana. 

It’s time to regulate sales of marijuana and put the taxes to work for health care and education.

The initiative includes much needed regulation of where marijuana can be sold, moving away from our schools and children.

Wendy DiPeso October 20, 2012 at 07:52 PM
I first became acquainted with Gerry while working on the Clean Up Hanford campaign. Gerry is very intelligent, diplomatic and he listens! He has worked tirelessly to hold the Department of Energy and the corporations accountable with regard to the clean up at Hanford. I am sure that teachers and students will benefit from his dedication to improving education in Washington State.

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