- Category: Top Stories
- Published on Friday, 26 October 2012 01:00
- Written by Nicholas Shannon Kulmac
With Election Day on the horizon, the Vancouver Business Journal asked candidates to respond to a series of business-related questions with an emphasis on specifics. Below, you will find responses from Clark County Commissioner candidates, Tom Mielke and Joe Tanner (District No. 1), and Marc Boldt and David Madore (District No. 2). On Page 2, you will find responses from Washington’s gubernatorial candidates, Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna.
Q: What specific business experience do you bring to the position of commissioner that you believe sets you apart from your opponent, given the current needs of the county and the role of the commissioners?
Boldt: I am privileged to have spent my entire life in Clark County. I know our proud past and can envision our promising future. My name has been on both sides of paychecks, so I know there needs to be a balance between a good budget and employee morale. I ran a fresh market blueberry operation where I worked through a number of continual changes: market conditions, regulations and Mother Nature. I also served in the legislature for 10 years. There I learned you are better off if you listen to others, are open to new ideas and are consistent in your actions.
The real key to being a successful commissioner is to know our role within this economy, make clear decisions, work well with state and federal elected officials, and be consistent so employees can plan for the future.
Madore: I believe that the county needs new leadership from the private sector with a proven track record of creating great local private jobs and growing healthy while remaining debt free, even in this economy. We need leaders who lead by example with decades of experience building consensus and coordinating teams to deliver timely practical solutions. We need new management that focuses on making others successful to champion efficient timely solutions. Qualifications include translate wish-lists into tangible action items and get ‘er done.
As founder and CEO of US Digital, it has been my pleasure to do exactly that for the past 33 years. US Digital provides 120 great local jobs, has become the number one designer and manufacturer of high tech sensors for the solar power world. The team has flourished and achieved a level of success and self-management that has freed me up to serve full time as Clark County Commissioner.
My reason for running is to open the floodgates to local private jobs, to unleash free enterprise in Clark County and enable our community to once again prosper and thrive.
Q: The Clark County Economic Development Strategic Plan calls for jurisdictions across the county to play an active role in assuring infrastructure is in place that will allow existing businesses and those considering Clark County to grow and prosper. What plan do you have to see the county is honoring its responsibility and participation in the execution of the strategic plan?
Mielke: I started the drive to reduce permit cost to one by service rather than regulating. I promoted the fee holiday and moratorium on transportation impact fees to stimulate and jump-start our stalled economy. We are now reviewing the impact fee formula and reducing the seven TIP areas to one to be able to better select the most need for the whole county.
Tanner: Clark County has not shown sufficient leadership in economic development, and I plan to change that. I was the founding president of the CREDC, so I am entirely committed to the vision of the new strategic plan. Importantly, I served in the Washington State Senate, so I know how the legislative process works. A successful economic development effort requires that all parties pull on the same end of the rope: (1) public and private; (2) state, federal and local; and (3) Democrats, Republicans and Independents. That is my strength – uniting diverse and often opposing groups behind a common, non-partisan vision. We will achieve objectives that now seem impossible, including cutting the local unemployment rate in half. I led this effort before, and I can do it again.
Q: As governor what specific policies do you feel are hurting small business most and which are you willing to work to change in your first 100 days?
Inslee: Our small businesses employ about 41 percent of Washington’s workforce. They sit at the forefront of economic cycles and are often the hardest hit during economic downturns. My jobs plan includes a section on small business with proposals to provide tax relief, streamline the way in which government interacts with business, expand export opportunities and improve workforce development.
Two of the most immediate things I’d like to do is propose a B&O tax break for businesses when they hire new workers, and implement lean management measures in permitting and licensing offices to improve process times. King County is implementing such measures which have already resulted in over-the-counter permits being issued within two hours instead of two weeks.
McKenna: When I went around the state and listened to hundreds of small business owners at 14 small business roundtables, they told me about the burdens that the state imposes on them. They told me about the high cost of unemployment insurance and industrial insurance, our complicated and expensive tax compliance requirements and the regulatory hassles and uncertainty; state government could do more to improve.
With so many out of work, the next governor must focus on reducing the expense of employing people and hiring new workers. As governor, I seek the input of small businesspeople about how we can ease the burden of complying with complicated tax rules among many different jurisdictions so they can concentrate on what they need to do – making their business successful. And we will institute regulatory review in all state agencies to eliminate unnecessary rules and offer more predictability to businesses. More than anything, we need an attitude adjustment in Olympia so state agencies ask what they can do to help Washington businesses succeed.