North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
October 3, 2016
          On deck: Candidates for Spokane County Commissioner will discuss issues Oct.10.  3rd District State Legislature candidates visit the club Oct. 17 and Superior Court candidates visit Oct. 24.  Mail ballots are due no later than Tuesday, Nov. 8, Election Day.
6th District candidates share backgrounds and views     
          Following the club’s established procedure of brief introductory remarks followed by four-minute round-robin or “speed-dating” discussions at each table, 6th District state legislative candidates discussed education funding, economic development and other issues at the Oct. 3 club luncheon.
          The elongated 6th District spans an area from Northwest Spokane through the South Hill.  In recent boundary adjustments, much of the Mead area was moved into the 7th District.
          For Position 2, Rep. Jeff Holy, R-6th, seeks a third legislative term.  He is opposed by Democrat Shar Lichty.
          For Position 1, Republican Mike Volz and Democrat Lynnette Vehrs are running to succeed Rep. Kevin Parker, who did not seek re-election.
          Verhs, wife of former state legislator Denny Dellwo, worked 40 years as a registered nurse and recently retired as an instructor at WSU’s School of Nursing.
          In opening remarks, she said, “I need to change the health-care system.”  She related a story about a female patient with a leg injury which, she said, became infected after an insurance carrier delayed coverage.
          Vehrs also said smoke from eastern Washington forest fires in recent years has created increased health problems throughout the area.
          Of the State Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling in 2011 mandating the state to fully fund K-12 education, Verhs said, “We need to get it done.”
          Volz, a certified public accountant, currently is chief deputy treasurer for Spokane County and an adjunct professor at Whitworth University.
          He cited three major issues.  First is jobs and Volz said “Washington is number eight in the nation for unemployment and Spokane is worse (than the state’s numbers).”  He said the outdoor gear shop Cabela’s looked at store sites in Airway Heights and the Spokane Valley, but chose Idaho’s state line to locate, and their choice “is a monument to our tax system.” (A Cabela’s buyout by rival Bass Pro was reported Tuesday.)
          Volz said of education funding that “we need to make sure the current dollars are being well-spent.”
          Holy, after service with the Army, had a career with the Spokane Police Department.
          He stressed the lack of career opportunities for “our best and brightest.  We have good colleges in the area, but our best and brightest kids can’t stay here” because of a lack of suitable jobs, Holy said.
          He stressed the need for economic development, including completing the North Spokane Corridor project and continuing to develop the West Plains, where “we don’t understand how well things are going.”  Holy added: “If we can develop businesses with manufacturing and distribution centers, we will be the place where opportunity exists.”
          Lichty has held supervisory positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors and has been a para-educator in public schools.
          Lichty discussed her time in Deer Park schools and said through her para-ed work she “discovered a broader passion for social work.”  She said she would “work with everyday people on things that impact their lives.”
          On education funding, Lichty said the state’s tax system “is the most regressive” and needs overhauling, starting with closing 600 tax loopholes, such as write-offs for owners of private jets.
          She emphasized that increased education funding is “only part of the picture” and other social service programs still need adequate funding.
          In one round-table discussion, Lichty said closing loopholes could generate up to $1 billion in added revenue per year statewide.  She also said the Legislature needs to better define basic education as it conforms to a State Supreme Court ruling ordering full funding.
          She said in her visits with voters, North Side residents typically want to talk about education, while South Side voters want to discuss health care.
          Volz in one round-table talk also talked about revising the state tax system and providing more tax incentives for development.  Of unemployment issues, Volz said, “We gutted trade education in schools.”  He said “20-year-olds seeking jobs “should get GED’s and counseling.”
          Holy talked about tax reform and business recruitment.  He noted Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s aggressive recruitment plans started three years ago and praised County Commissioner Al French’s strategy of consistency, telling prospective business leaders “what’s what, with no change ups, even if it’s 10 years out.”
          Holy said the North Spokane Corridor is scheduled “on a 16-year build out,” and he worries that it will be difficult to keep the Spokane area funding away from West Side highway projects.
          Vehrs, in her round-table, said to meet the Supreme Court’s “McCleary ruling” on full funding, “we must increase revenues; there are no two ways about it.”  She also said “basic education” must be better defined, wondering if that includes items such as school buses.
          The retired nurse was asked if Spokane can support two medical schools.  She replied that it could, but she questions whether “we have enough clinical sites” in the area for newly trained doctors and nurses.
The bulletin producers:
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
Program coordinator: Brad Stark