Rural jobs for young people.
Our region presents few opportunities for young people who want to enter the workforce. The few available jobs often do not provide adequate compensation. This results in the youth of the area leaving for greener pastures. The lack of young people entering the workforce in rural areas causes economic stagnation and perpetuates the problem. I want to bring new businesses and introduce student loan forgiveness for those who chose to return to their community to work.
Prevent “bedroom community” takeover.
In recent years many rural areas have become overrun by city residents looking for a cheap place to live. This has lead to increased emissions from commuters and subdivisions devouring valuable farmland. I want to introduce new tax incentives for farmers, to ensure that they are able to keep their land. I am also in favor of heavy penalties for realtors who wish to develop farmland.
Affordable high speed internet for all.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has emphasized the necessity of the internet for school and work related purposes. It has also highlighted that rural area students and employees are at a severe disadvantage when told to work from home. As your representative I will introduce legislation to expand high speed internet coverage to the neglected areas of our state.
New infrastructure projects
Our area is perfectly primed for cost saving infrastructure projects. I want to introduce tax breaks for businesses and residences willing to install solar panels on their buildings. Not only will this reduce the strain on our power grid, but it will also decrease our reliance on diminishing fuel sources. I will also push for the widening of I-5 in the Centralia-Chehalis area. This is one of the only places on its entire length that I-5 has only 4 lanes, and widening it will help prevent the frequent accidents and traffic jams.
Rural electric grid stability
Rural areas often suffer power outages, sometimes lasting for several days, when severe storms pass through the area. If elected I will develop legislation to begin burying rural power-lines wherever possible. This will reduce maintenance costs and increase durability of our power grid. I will also introduce legislation to support farmers willing to install renewable energy sources, allowing them to eliminate power costs and generate revenue from excess production.
Sustainable business in rural areas.
To foster long term economic success in our region we need to create an environment in which businesses can thrive. We are surrounded by wealthy urban areas, yet little of that wealth flows into rural areas. To make that happen we need to give people a reason to visit. I will implement new grants to encourage the creation of new tourism and outdoor recreation activities and attractions. This will include the creation of new parks that will revitalize underutilized commercial forest land and restore public access to our outdoor areas. These parks will provide unique entrepreneurial opportunities and bring much needed business to communities in rural areas.
Improve the quality of Washington education
Though our educational system is ahead of many other areas of the country, there is room for improvement. As your representative I will expand and improve Washington state’s education system, working to increase student success. I want to encourage funding for history and the arts ensuring that, while we support science and mathematics, our culture remains robust. I also intend to explore the possibility of reducing the reliance of educational facilities on levies.
Four year colleges in small and rural communities
A four year college would have a variety of beneficial effects. It would cut college costs for locals and reduce the need for prospective students to move away from home. Furthermore such a college would bring new, more sustainable businesses to the area. As your representative I intend to examine the possibility of expanding the local community colleges to offer four year degrees.
New rural clinics
Rural areas are often left behind where health care access is concerned, with some people driving hours to see a doctor. I intend to remedy this by funding new clinics and expanded emergency services. This would ensure that people in rural communities could easily get care when needed. Furthermore, I will push to implement subsidies for rural doctors to ensure that these clinics will be fully staffed.
Optimized healthcare system
Many part time employees, contract workers, and self employed individuals, lack easy access to health insurance. The State system is cumbersome and inadequate, and there is much room for improvement. The Covid-19 situation has highlighted this problem, where many individuals can’t even afford to get tested. As representative I will seek to implement a new universal system in Washington – a system that eliminates extra costs and decreases complexity, allowing all residents to be treated whenever they need it.
Increased funding to rural law enforcement
Rural law enforcement is often stretched thin, with only a few deputies for an entire county. I want to increase funding to these departments to allow for more deputies and better coverage of the counties they protect. I will also push for increased and improved training for these new deputies to ensure that our officers can deal with any situation.
Ranked choice voting
I firmly believe that ranked choice voting is an essential step towards more productive, civil, and fair elections. It offers a variety of improvements to the way elections are conducted, including reduced costs, less divisive campaigns, and improved voter choice. As your representative, I will work to implement ranked choice voting throughout our State. (Details of ranked choice voting https://www.electzahn.com/ranked-choice-voting-explained/)
Paying for covid-19 recovery and other programs.
Paying for the fight against covid-19 in Washington will cost the State are in the billions of dollars. If we are to recover our economy and balance our budget, we will need to increase our reserves. To this end I will introduce a bill to tax the those with $10 million dollars or more at a rate of 1%. This would generate more than $7 billion for the State’s Biennial Budget, allowing the costs of Covid-19 to be offset and vital programs to be maintained.
The single biggest factor in homelessness is that houshold incomes are not keeping up with rent increases. In 2019 there were almost 22000 homless in Washington State. There are many different groups and agencies that have spent a great deal of time and money on the problem. However, the lack of coordination has diminished the effectiveness of these efforts. We need to establish a single organization to work with these groups and agencies to ensure their resources are deployed where they will have the greatest impact.
The homeless in Washington are composed of people from many different backgrounds including, families, veterans, young adults, and the chronic homeless. Currently we rely mostly on shelters, but these are often unsafe and perpetuate the revolving door of street to shelter to jail. Furthermore, the average monthly cost of a family in a shelter is nearly $5000. To solve this problem to provide the homeless with low rent and supportive housing. Supportive housing includes job training, healthcare, and counseling services. Utah effectively used this in its housing first program to reduce the its chronic homeless population by 72%. I firmly believe that similar results could be achieved in Washington State.