David Boyd, former president of Groundswell NW, moderated Sunset Hill Community Club's debate last night.
Klein, Carlyle have mild-mannered, courteous debate
The debate between Reuven Carlyle (D-36) and Hope and Change Party candidate Leslie Klein at the Sunset Hill Community Club last night was mild-mannered, courteous and, at times, revealed itself as a kind of joke.
Albeit a joke that permitted a chance for "civic discussion," as Carlyle called it, and which highlighted several key issues.
Klein, who has run time and time again for the fiercely Democratic 36th District, and without fail always failed by a wide margin, understood the joke all too well.
"There is one thing that Reuven and I agree on," Klein said. "And that is with the absentee ballots counted so far, he already has more votes than I’m going to get between now and when the ballots are counted in a month from now. So Reuven, let me congratulate you”
The debate served more as a chance for Carlyle to repeat his firm stances on several issues while Klein served the typical opposing view to push back against.
Carlyle expressed his opposition to coal trains and Tim Eyman's two-thirds majority initiative, his concern for the charter schools initiative, and discussed the question of a state bank.
On coal, Carlyle was adamant.
"I am vigorously, aggressively, unequivocally opposed to this proposal,” Carlyle said. "To me, it's not just about global warming, it's not just about air quality in china," he said. "It's about what we want to invest in in this economy.”
He said coal was not a smart product to invest in, arguing that it's future is not long and that jobs will be temporary. Furthermore, he said that not a single one of the jobs will be in King County and will only be in the immediate area of the coal terminal. He expressed concern that the coal trains, which would probably average at least 50 cars but could be up to 120 cars long, would block tourist traffic. A million tourists each summer get off cruise terminals on the waterfront and have to cross train tracks to get to Pike Place Market and downtown.
Klein gave the opposing view, believing firmly that there was a possible way to be "fully environmentally responsible" while gaining the benefit of jobs from coal trains. He said there is no reason why Canada should be taking all of the jobs from coal exports.
"You may have realized it but this state is in trouble,” he said. One way to help fix Washington's troubled economy, he said, would be to bring in coal exports.
For Tim Eyman's initiative, which requires a 2/3 supermajority vote from the Legislature to pass any tax whatsoever, Carlyle gave his now somewhat famous constitutional argument.
"In the Constitution, almost every single element of it is procedural to protect the rights of the minority," he said. "Supermajorities are undemocratic, they are clearly unconstitutional in our state, but they are also an evisceration of our democracy."
Carlyle argued that requiring a supermajority vote also meant that the will of the Legislature was dictated by just 17 people, out or 147. He stated that 17 people in the Legislature have signed Grover Nordquist's pledge to never raise taxes, under any circumstance. Though the pledge is not legally binding, signers have typically taken it seriously, refusing to budge or compromise.
Klein, on the other hand, is in full support of Eyman's initiative. He said that there are two ways to balance the budget, and that Democrats would rather take the easy way out -- raising taxes. He said that fiscal responsibility was another, though harder, choice.
On charter schools, Klein expressed complete support, saying the competition could help revitalize Washington's school system. Carlyle said that he was not completely opposed to it and thought the initiative was a good, careful "experiment." He said that he had his skepticism, but thought that starting with only 40 charter schools would be a good start, and that he would closely review how successful -- or unsuccessful -- they would be.
In the end, though the odds are heavily tilted in Carlyle's favor, both were respectful of each other's opinions and time. They answered questions in detail, didn't wander off topic and were respectful of time constraints.
Of course, though Klein joked throughout the night about his chances, he still wanted the audience's vote.
"I want your vote for a very selfish reason," Klein said. "I have received a combined total of 45,000 votes in my four times that I have run. I would like to get to 50,000 votes.”
The Ballard News-Tribune will post a second article detailing the debate for Position 2 of the 36th District, between Port Commission President Gael Tarleton and Progressive Majority Director Noel Frame.