Photo courtesy of Evan Clifthorne Campaign

Coffee with the Candidates: Evan Clifthorne

By Theresa Edwards, Intern

Meet Evan Clifthorne, one of seven candidates for the 36th district House of Representatives seat. After two years of working in the legislature in Olympia, Clifthorne said he is ready to hit the ground running if elected representative.

The Ballard News-Tribune recently met with the Phinneywood resident to talk about the race and his campaign platform. Six other candidates are running, including city legislative aide Sahar Fathi, professional campaigner Noel Frame, Port Commissioner President Gael Tarleton, politician's son Brett Phillips and political activist Linde Knighton. They are all running to replace the vacated seat left by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-36).

Raised in the state capitol of Olympia, Clifthorne had an interest in politics at an early age. He participated in a youth legislature program as a student at Capitol High before earning his transfer degree from Whatcom Community College and then a degree in Political Science at Western Washington University.

Before working in the legislature, Clifthorne lived in Washington D.C., where he worked as Outreach Director for the Mosaic Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to women's entrepreneurship development and access to clean drinking water in the developing world. He returned to the Pacific Northwest in 2010 to work as a legislative aide for Senator Paull Shin (D-Edmonds).

“As the only candidate in the race with direct legislative experience, I firmly believe that Washington State is best served when everyone works together for the common good,” said the former legislative aide, describing his collaborative work philosophy as essential to getting things done in the legislature.

“You have to understand how to work with everyone, and build relationships with people even when you disagree on an issue.”

Those disagreed upon issues include the debate over charter schools, which Clifthorne said create a further disconnect between parents and the education system. He believes that the legislature needs to focus on fixing our current system by supporting our educators and students comprehensively, from preschool through college.

"We don't buy a new car because the tires go flat. We fix the tires," said Clifthorne. "We should be talking about leadership, and trust. We should invest in our principals and allow them to lead. We should support our teachers whom we trust with our children. If we do these things, we will begin to address the real challenges in our schools, without throwing out the old system simply because the grass looks greener on the other side."

After four years of economic recession and budget cuts amounting to $10 billion over four years, one of the biggest challenges faced by any representative will be helping to address the states’ revenue system, which currently provides inadequate funding to education and other public services. Under a recent state Supreme Court decision, judges ruled that Washington State is not upholding the state constitution's demand for adequate funding in K-12 education. If followed, the decision could make for a difficult legislative session next year as the budget is reviewed.

According to Clifthorne's website, his revenue strategy is comprehensive. He promotes making the budget more efficient and ridding wasteful spending. He notes the old trope that government should act more like a business, and says that the Washington Legislature should act like the most successful business in the state, Boeing.

Another important issue to Clifthorne is addressing the health of the Puget Sound. “Puget Sound is an environmental treasure and a vital economic resource,” he said. “Finding solutions for toxic stormwater runoff is one of my top legislative priorities. It’s time for the Seattle delegation to take the lead in confronting the Puget Sound region's most critical environmental challenge.”

In addition to a federal appeal for cleanup aid, Clifthorne would like to see action at the state level. He has a vision of reworking the state transportation budget to prioritize more environmentally-friendly roads that are part of the solution, not the problem.

Investing in transit and energy efficiency, protecting women’s health rights, preserving marriage equality, and creating more jobs for Washington residents would also be on Clifthorne’s agenda as 36th district representative. Clifthorne has been a strong supporter of competitive economic growth policies, social services for women and families, consumer driven healthcare and humane legislation for animals.

"Our grassroots campaign continues to be an incredible journey. We're on target this weekend to knock on our 25,000th door. I've met thousands of incredible people in the past three months alone, and I have a deep appreciation for the thoughts and concerns of our friends and neighbors in the 36th district," said Clifthorne. "I feel truly privileged by the experience, and I'm excited to continue working all the way to November."

Clifthorne has been endorsed by Senator Kevin Ranker, Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, Senator Paull Shin, and former Senator Phil Rockefeller, among others.

For more information on Evan Clifthorne, his campaign and more detailed descriptions of his stance on various issues, visit http://evanclifthorne.com/.

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