In Their Own Words: Candidates on Key Peninsula

Staff Report Campaign signs continue sprouting along the edges of State Route 302 and the Key Peninsula Highway as the Nov. 6 general election draws near. Pierce County Voters’ Pamphlets are scheduled for mailing to registered voters Oct. 11 and local ballots follow Oct. 19. The Pierce County Auditor’s Office estimates nearly 50 percent of ballots are cast before Election Day at official drop box locations or by mail. Key Peninsula News invited candidates for Pierce County Council District 7 and the 26th Legislative District races to answer a single question: “What are your top priorities specifically for the Key Peninsula?”

Pierce County Council District 7

David Olson (R)

The citizens of the KP are paying high property taxes and they are not seeing anything in return, i.e., splash park or maintenance of the Purdy Bridge. I will ensure the property taxes are spent fairly across the county. I will reach out to legislators in Olympia and strongly advocate for dedicated transportation funding to improve SR-302 and replace the Purdy Bridge. I will work with the Sheriff’s department to find additional funding to provide more law enforcement officers on the KP. This will help lower property crimes and deal with the homeless population and the garbage and waste they leave behind. I will strongly lobby Pierce Transit to restore the bus line to the Key Peninsula. Pierce Transit has more than enough funding to restore the route without having to raise taxes. I will stand arm-in-arm with the citizens of the Key Peninsula and demand they restore the bus route.

Derek Young (D)

Since arriving to the council I’ve worked to improve public safety and justice services. We’ve added 45 positions to the Sheriff Department––17 in the Corrections Bureau and 28 in operations. We still need more for full staffing. As co-chair of the Washington State Association of Counties Legislative Steering Committee, I’m leading an effort to improve Washington’s worst in the nation level of criminal justice funding. There are several transportation issues on the Key Peninsula but the major one is the Purdy Bridge replacement and intersection. They’re state responsibilities but it’s my job to advocate for those improvements––which is why we added it to the county’s legislative agenda. It’s important that we maintain the rural character of the Key Peninsula and preserve both working lands and critical habitat. I also think taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize new growth. That’s why I’ve sponsored increases to school and park construction impact fees.

Washington State Senate 26th Legislative District

Marty McClendon (R)

My top priorities for the Key Peninsula are road and highway safety, veterans, safety and crime prevention, and broadband. I will work with the Gig Harbor mayor to get the funding to install a roundabout at the Purdy Spit, new crosswalks, stoplights and highway streetlights to improve driving conditions. I will also work to finally address and expand SR-302. I will fight for our veterans and work to coordinate the disjointed agencies that provide benefits and services so no veterans fall in between the cracks. I will provide leadership and collaborate with city and county officials to focus on crime prevention and provide the tools for successful early drug intervention so that our communities and families stay safe and together. I will sponsor and encourage collaboration with public-private partnerships to bring broadband internet to the Key Peninsula so every family has equal access to a free and open internet.

Emily Randall (D)

I grew up in a rural part of our district, 
not unlike the Key Peninsula. In our 
community, we’re independent. We take 

care of ourselves, but in hard times we 
take care of each other. As the Puget Sound region grows, 
communities like ours are facing new, 
tougher challenges. Costs are rising; wages are stagnant. It’s harder and harder to get where we need to go, harder to afford housing and health care. We have so much work to do. But there’s energy and hope in our community. We know that if we work together, we can ensure everyone has health care that’s affordable, high quality and comprehensive. We can create pathways to good-paying jobs close to home. We can fix our transportation problems so that getting around is easier. We can create a community that’s more connected by expanding rural broadband. Together, let’s build a future that’s better for all of us.

Washington State 
House of Representatives
 26th Legislative District Position 1

Connie FitzPatrick (D)

Our communities deserve thoughtful, independent leadership, not partisan politicians. A PTA mom, Navy veteran and small business owner, I am committed to service and never back away from a challenge. As your state representative I’ll stand up for students, veterans and families––not special interests. My priorities for the Key Peninsula include improving our transportation and education systems, and addressing public safety issues like those caused by the homelessness crisis and slow police response times. As your neighbor, and as your representative, I will demand fairness for small business and middle class taxpayers by phasing out unfair corporate loopholes and lowering property taxes. I would be honored to earn your vote.

Jesse Young (R)

My top priority is resolving traffic congestion. Now that I’ve kept my promise to stop the Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll increases, I’ll begin work to expand the off-ramp and corridor to the Purdy Spit. Connecting State Route 16 with the upcoming Belfair bypass utilizing the Pine Road corridor is a longterm goal. This work will tie into 118th and be part of a regional development plan that will provide a number of options for local job growth and regional access. Additionally, I will work to extend the turn lane and pedestrian access along SR-302 to the fire department and Gateway Park to increase safety in that area. Finally, I will continue to keep my promise to bring capital budget funds to the Key Peninsula. Supporting projects such as those at the Key Peninsula Civic Center, Penrose State Park, Longbranch Marina or the Minter Creek Hatchery have been just the start.

Washington State 
House of Representatives 
26th Legislative District Position 2

Michelle Caldier (R)

Over the last four years, I have been honored to represent Key Peninsula in Olympia. During that time, I helped secure historic funding to projects on the Key Peninsula for the Longbranch Marina, Key Pen Civic Center, Gateway Park and The Mustard Seed Project’s senior community. I also fought to stop the bridge tolls from increasing, fix how we fund education in our state and reform the foster care system. This next term, I will be focused on reducing property taxes, fixing how we fund school construction, filling gaps in mental health care and improving congestion around the Purdy Spit. If re-elected, I promise to continue to work across the aisle, have an open door policy, and advocate for Key Peninsula residents in the state Legislature. I humbly ask for your vote in November.

Joy Stanford (D)

Divisive politics and partisan attacks generate headlines but ignore struggling local families, veterans, seniors and kids. I’m not interested in scoring political points. I am a mother, teacher, and health care professional and am running for one reason: to help the people of this region address shared priorities with common sense solutions. For Key Peninsula families I will fight for a reliable transportation system. This means bringing back Pierce Transit bus routes, ensuring more frequent service and exploring viable options for traffic revision and improvements. I will address the overcrowding in our schools and ensure every child in our community has access to a quality education by reducing the super majority currently required to pass a bond or levy. I look forward to the opportunity to serve you and respectfully ask for your vote. The Key Peninsula News is a co-sponsor of the Meet the Candidates forum, a panel discussion and reception Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. where these candidates and more will appear at the Key Peninsula Civic Center Whitmore Room to answer your questions.