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Meet the candidates: Race for Legislative District 15, Position 1

Race for Legislative Dist. 15, Pos. 1.JPG
Race for Legislative Dist. 15, Pos. 1.JPG
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YAKIMA COUNTY -- The race for Legislative District 15 is a repeat from 2018. District 15 spans from Selah and parts of Yakima all the way down to Grandview.

Representative Bruce Chandler has been in office since 1999. In that time, he says he's helped move our agriculture industry into the 21st century. Chandler says if elected to another term, he plans to bring the Yakima water basin project to an end.

Chandler says the last session wasn't the best session Republicans have had.

"I do believe that we did leave ourselves an opportunity to redeem ourselves this coming term," says Chandler.

Jack McEntire says his opponent hasn't gotten much done in Olympia, saying as a Democrat, he could get more bills passed into law to help people here in the Yakima Valley.

"I strongly believe we need a Democrat in our area. Olympia is controlled by the Democratic party," says McEntire. "If we want our voice to be heard, we need someone in that party."

McEntire is an artist, but he says his background - a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Washington would be of value in our capital.

He takes issue with Representative Chandler supposedly saying the science on mask wearing isn't settled.

"When our leaders question this, it makes it worse for all of us, and it prolongs this pain," says McEntire.

Chandler says he does wear a mask.

"I think it helps. I don't think it's perfect. You know I think it has some vulnerabilities that we haven't really responded to," says Chandler. "I think it shows respect and appreciation for other people when you wear a mask."

McEntire says the pandemic is proof that we need universal healthcare, and he says that would be a priority for him in Olympia.

"Tying healthcare to your employment makes little sense. If you have an economic downturn, and millions of people lose their jobs, millions of people lose their healthcare. If the Affordable Care Act is turned down by the Supreme Court, millions more of us will not have healthcare. This doesn't make moral sense, and it doesn't make economic sense." says McEntire. "For less money we can provide better coverage and we can provide it to everyone in our state. Lead the way, other states would follow our example. Eventually the United States joins Canada, Australia, Germany, England, Japan, every other advanced country in the world and provides universal healthcare to its citizens."

Chandler is a small scale pear grower based in the Granger area. He says he hasn't felt the effects of the pandemic as much as H-2A workers and their employers. He says growers have had the rules constantly change on them during the pandemic. He says if reinstated, he'd work to get rid of some of those rules.

"Give them the respect for letting them do what they believe is best unless there's clear evidence that there's a problem," says Chandler.

McEntire says having been a fruit picker himself, he'd actually want more rules to protect the health of laborers. He says he doesn't think enough was done to protect workers from the hazardous air quality wildfire smoke brought to the valley in mid-September.

"These are the people I'm concerned for and always have been," says McEntire.

After wildfires ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres throughout our state this year, both agree something more needs to be done to prevent the destruction.

Chandler says too often the legislature creates a cause, and an agency and then it doesn't wind up getting it funded.

"So it can't be successful, and I think that's an injustice to our constituents as well as to the people who engage in those projects, and then we prevent them from being successful at it. I think we can do a lot better," says Chandler.

Chandler say the legislature needs to improve the stewardship and maintenance of our lands.

"I think stewardship is kind of the key really, more than you know changing everybody's lifestyle through law.

On the other hand, McEntire says addressing climate change is one of his biggest priorities, and the legislature needs to think big picture. He says much of the forest service's budget is going toward fighting the fires that are becoming worse and worse, so by the end of the year he says there's less money left to do prescribed burns and other mediation efforts. He says the state needs to focus more of its budget on the wildfire crisis, so the state can fight both the fires and the causes of them.

"What we've done to the environment slowly but steadily needs to be addressed. Global warming is scientifically proven," says McEntire.

McEntire says the state needs a greener economy.

"We upgrade our electrical grid. We upgrade our transportation system. We upgrade so much of our infrastructure, it'll help our energy use go down and we can increase our green energy production," says McEntire.

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In the end it'll be up to voters to decide who will represent the 15th district in Olympia.

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