Jarrett, Baker spar for open 41st District Senate seat
October 14, 2008
By Jim Feehan
As a young boy growing up in Montana, Fred Jarrett dreamed of being a pilot. Visual acuity kept him out of the cockpit, but he did go to work as a manager at The Boeing Co.
“When I was young, I used to eat carrots like crazy to try to improve my vision,” he said. “But it didn’t work.”
Jarrett made news in December when he switched parties to become a Democrat. He said the Republican Party has moved too far to the right and is out of touch with suburban votes in the 41st District.
Forty years ago, he cut his political teeth working on Republican Dan Evans’ first gubernatorial campaign. He later went on to serve as a Republican precinct officer, legislative district chair and state legislator.
Jarrett said he tries to approach issues with an open mind and seek solutions that are in the best interests of his constituents.
“Government is important in that it delivers services essential to the well-being of our community,” he said.
One of those essential services is education.
“We need to pursue our vision of a world-class education system for all students that boosts our competitiveness,” he said.
A big issue facing lawmakers in 2009 is a projected $2.7 billion deficit. A sluggish economy has resulted in fewer consumers spending (which results in sales tax revenue) and driving (which results in gas tax revenue). Expenditures need to be reduced to match spending in the next biennium, Jarrett said.
In an era of declining tax revenues, the state is still forging ahead with transportation projects important to the Eastside. The state is making a significant investment in improvements to Interstate 405, the I-405/state Route 167 interchange and the creation of high-occupancy toll lanes on state Route 167, he said.
Any discussion about tolling one or both bridges on Lake Washington has to take into account how it will affect the region’s other major roadways, he said.
“For 35 years, the 520 bridge had a toll and it affected the driving habits of motorists,” he said. “We need to understand the impact tolling on 520 would have on I-90 and mitigate those impacts.”
Jarrett has served eight years in the Legislature. Prior to that, he served on the Mercer Island School Board, the Mercer Island City Council and was mayor of Mercer Island for two terms. In the early 1970s, Jarrett served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
The King County Municipal League has ranked Jarrett as an “outstanding” candidate for the position. The league is a nonpartisan association that conducts the equivalent of job interviews with candidates in King County and rates them on their capacity to serve effectively.
State spending needs to be reined in, according to candidate Bob Baker.
The Alaska Airlines pilot for the past 12 years and former Navy pilot is running for the 41st District state Senate seat.
“Spending has gotten out of hand and I want to turn that around,” he said. “We don’t live like that in our own homes when it comes to budgeting.”
Baker said the Legislature should follow through on performance audits of government agencies advocated by State Auditor Brian Sonntag. Such audits are used to measure the effectiveness of programs and agencies and to find whether they are living up to expectations.
“What we’re really talking about is the rate of increase in government spending in Olympia,” he said. “It’s not a revenue problem. It’s a spending problem.”
In health care, state-mandated coverage requirements have resulted in a limited number of choices of insurance providers in the state, Baker said.
“Idaho has 13 government mandates while we have over 50 mandates on insurance,” he said. “It’s an example of supply and demand. And when there is less supply, you’ll have higher prices.”
Baker said the state has done little to relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 405 and the two bridges over Lake Washington, while investing millions of dollars on public transit.
“Spending $18 billion on Proposition 1 will do nothing to reduce traffic congestion,” he said. “We need to increase capacity on our roads and bridges.
“People need their cars now more so than ever, with different work schedules and transporting children to after-school activities.”
Baker grew up in suburban Chicago in the flight path of O’Hare Airport. He said he would gaze up at the jetliners taking off and landing and dreamed of one day being a pilot. He served in the Navy for 21 years as an F-14 pilot.
This is not Baker’s first foray in politics. He ran unsuccessfully for the Mercer Island City Council in 2005. Last year, he sponsored an initiative that would have cracked down on public services for illegal immigrants. Applicants for medical care, food stamps, housing and other benefits could qualify only after proving U.S. citizenship. The initiative did not collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
“I see a sense of elitism on the part of people in Olympia, who think they know so much better how to spend your money,” Baker said. “Well, that’s the kind of thinking I want to turn around.”
The King County Municipal League has ranked Baker as a “good” candidate for the position. The league is a nonpartisan association that conducts the equivalent of job interviews with candidates in King County and rates them on their capacity to serve effectively.