BAYVIEW — One is a registered nurse. One is a commissioner for the Port of Coupeville and the third is the incumbent.
Though the three women have disparate backgrounds, they have the same goal: to win.
Democrats Ann McDonald and Patricia Terry are challenging Republican Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) for Position 2 to the Legislative 10th District this fall. The district includes Camano and Whidbey islands, Stanwood and the surrounding areas north to Burlington and south toward Marysville.
Both Terry and McDonald were originally going to run against former Representative Chris Strow (R-Freeland), who resigned in December to take an economic policy analyst position in Seattle.
Norma Smith (R-Clinton) was appointed to replace Strow. That caused Tim Knue, an educator from Conway, who narrowly lost to Bailey in 2006 and had planned to challenge her again, to change positions and instead challenge Smith this fall.
The candidates recently spoke on a range of issues, including health care, the economy, ferries and the possibility that Island County might approve a public utility district to buy out Puget Sound Energy.
After three terms over six years, Barbara Bailey is not daunted by the idea of challengers for her job.
“I’m a busy woman and that’s the reason I’m perceived as a leader,” she said.
But not so busy she can’t knock on a few doors.
“That’s the best part of an election,” she said. “Once they get past their surprise, I’m at their doorstep, people are never hesitant to let me know how they feel about the issues.”
She added that the process is hard — there are many doors and only so much time.
Bailey isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
“The Democratic opposition in the legislature enjoys making promises to the people, but without a way to pay for them, the promises won’t become a reality,” she said.
Bailey said there should be a clear funding mechanism in place for any state or federally mandated program. She explained that when a bill is passed, there is supposed to be funding within the bill. She said bills are run through the legislative process that says if funding is absent, the law is null and void.
“So the Democrats make the promise, pass a bill and it goes nowhere,” she said. “There is a disconnect between laws passed and the budget. The answer is to put the actual dollar amount attached to it that can’t be removed or altered.”
Unlike her opponents, Bailey refused to openly support a public years before, he wasn’t a complete novice, but close. And he was determined to succeed.
“Wooden boats take the forms of nature that speak to us on many levels,” he said. “Especially as a functional craft and as works of art if done properly.”
“That would create a huge cost shift; folks with private or job-related insurance could sign up for free care,” she said. “When we take money from hard-working families to pay for someone else, that’s wrong.
“The way to fix the system is to enact insurance reforms through a free marketplace. We can achieve lower costs through better technology, which includes the transfer of information.”
She said that whenever she goes from one doctor to another, it takes forever to process the paperwork.
“If you improve communication between doctors, their offices and hospitals, you will reduce costs,” she said.
She’s also incensed over the high cost of health administration and believes that people need better education to plan for their future health care needs.
“Some people spend more on their car than health insurance,” she noted.
Another topic she’s mad about is the ferry system.
“I just heard that it will be another two months before the state submits a bid for new boats because of more design modifications,” she said. “Maybe we’ll have a boat on the Keystone run by April 2010, maybe not.”
She blames the sluggish nature of government contracting.
“No matter what the project, there always seems to be a delay,” she said.
As a commissioner for the Port of Coupeville, Ann McDonald is intimately aware of the impact caused by the discovery that ferries on the Keystone run were unsafe.
“Keystone’s in my district, and the whole matter has been tough on our local merchants,” she said. “Clearly, no one thought it would get to the point of zero car ferry service. While an enormously complicated situation, transportation is an overriding issue facing the state.”
She added that the transportation needs of the state ferry system and rural highways should not be totally overshadowed by the needs of the Seattle metro area.
If elected, she plans to push through legislation that replacement ferries be built in Washington, with a portion of the work done by Freeland’s Nichols Brothers Boat Builders.
McDonald said she helped shape the port’s first comprehensive plan in 40 years, insisting that all the projects and initiatives planned for port investment through 2026 consider the port’s responsibility to promote economic development while blending in environmental considerations.
Although the environment had not been emphasized in the planning guidance provided by the state’s port association, Coupeville’s approach won approval and assurances that it will be used as a model for other ports in the state, McDonald added.
She said her ability to deal with a variety of differing views on port-related issues as commissioner will serve her well in the legislature.
McDonald is especially proud of her efforts on behalf of Greenbank Farm, which the port owns with Island County.
“One of my goals as a port commissioner was to work for a conservation easement to preserve the farm and its rural character, protecting it from future development forever,” she said. “That goal is well underway, and I am very glad to be part of that success.”
She said her campaign priorities are to improve access to affordable health care, improve transportation and preserve land for agriculture.
As a business owner, McDonald said she has worked actively with the 10 chambers of commerce in the district, including Langley, Freeland, Coupeville, Oak Harbor and Camano Island.
“If you want to learn about the community, you need to get out in the trenches as a volunteer,” she said.
She said the current move to form a public utility district in Island County is a smart move.
“There’s a good chance Puget Sound Energy will fight it for three to five years but I believe in a not-for-profit PUD,” she said.
She agrees with Bailey on the problem of unfunded mandates.
“They are certainly an unfortunate product of the legislative process,” she said. “When I’m in Olympia I’ll know where the dollars are to fund a program before I support it.”
Patricia Terry has learned a few things about campaigning for state office.
“The fact that the Democratic Party has endorsed me has been a huge help,” she said. “Their good wishes and financial support has made all the difference.”
Terry, a registered nurse of more than 30 years, said her experience in health care and management has been a real asset.
“Health care and the economy are the two concerns I hear about most on the campaign trail,” she said. “Either not having insurance or being underinsured, plus overall job insecurity, are things I hear about every day.”
Terry said that, as a longtime nurse, she favors health care for everyone, especially children.
But since she doesn’t believe in passing laws that can’t be funded, she wants to examine money sources in detail.
“For example, managed care companies routinely write contracts with a 20-30 percent profit margin attached,” she said. “Overhead is perfectly OK, but we need to take a deep, critical look at the profit structure built into the
She said she supports a public utility district for Island County.
“All utilities should be public,” she said. “I’m glad it will be on the ballot for the voters to decide.”
Terry has been ringing doorbells in parts of the district that have traditionally voted Republican in the past.
“I purposely seek out people with different political views because I know I’ll be representing them in the future,” she said.
Spending time in unfamiliar living rooms has shown Terry — who says she is new to campaigning but familiar with the political process — that many voters consider the same issues important, but through different perspectives.
“We want the same things for different reasons. We pay attention to the same issues,” she said.
“I don’t want to insulate myself on the Democratic or Republican side — I am district focused.”
She said that the problem with the ferries — notably the Keystone-Port Townsend run — highlights a larger issue.
“The public’s reluctance to support the infrastructure allowed a lack of preventative maintenance from letting anyone know the ferries were unsafe,” she said. “There should have been a plan in place to deal with it.”
Terry said the ferry system should be converted into its own state agency, apart from the state Department of Transportation, and maintenance checks and a replacement schedule should be implemented and acted upon.
“Before, I don’t think the ferries were seen as a highway system,” she said. “They are now, and the silver lining is this has changed mainlander’s concept of the ferry system.”
Though she earned a master’s degree in public administration, Terry said her real strength lies in her ability to relate to people, something she learned as a nurse.
“And nurses are not afraid of hard work,” she said.