Editor's note: Patch has submitted candidate questionnaires to gubernatorial candidates Rob McKenna, Republican, and Jay Inslee, Democrat. Jay Inslee's questionnaire is available here.
NAME: Rob McKenna
OFFICE SOUGHT: Governor
PARTY AFFILIATION: Republican
TOWN OF RESIDENCE: Bellevue, WA
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Attorney General of Washington State
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Business attorney, 1988-1996; King County Councilmember, 1996-2005; Attorney General, 2005-present.
Public office experience: I have been a leader as Washington’s Attorney General, reducing staff while increasing productivity. I made the office a national model for protecting consumers from mortgage fraud and identity theft, earning my peers' bipartisan “Outstanding Attorney General” award. Prior to that, I served on the King County Council and worked as a business attorney. Additionally, I served as president of the Bellevue Schools Foundation and Bellevue College Foundation.
WHAT IS THE MOST PRESSING ISSUE FACING VOTERS IN WASHINGTON:
My first priority is to build the finest public education system in the country, from early childhood through higher education. We cannot be satisfied with a public education system that came in near the bottom in the President’s Race to the Top competition; it’s time to make Washington a leader in education innovation. Our state has some of the best minds in education reform at the Gates Foundation and University of Washington’s Center for Reinventing Public Education, yet our K-12 system isn’t utilizing their best ideas.
IF ELECTED, WHAT WILL YOU DO IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS IN OFFICE TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE?
To do right by our kids let’s embrace innovative ideas like rewarding great teachers, paying them more to work at the more challenging schools, reducing K-3 class sizes, and shifting principals from administrative duties to spending more time as instructional leaders. At the university level, tuition costs have increased dramatically as state support has eroded, making it more difficult for middle class families to afford college and making it harder for students to get the classes they need to graduate on time. We need to return to a 50/50 deal with in-state students, where the state covers 50% of the costs of attending a state school. This can’t happen overnight, but as the economy recovers and the state budget outlook improves, we need to prioritize new funds toward our K-12 and university systems.
DO YOU SUPPORT/OPPOSE REFERENDUM 74: SHOULD GAY MARRIAGE BE LEGAL IN WASHINGTON? BRIEFLY, WHY?
As a matter of faith, I believe that marriage is a union of one man and one woman, but as a voter I voted in favor of Referendum 71 to provide equal legal rights for same-sex couples. I recognize not everyone shares my view on same sex marriage. Once the vote has been taken, I will uphold the law chosen by the voters.
DO YOU SUPPORT/OPPOSE, INITIATIVE 502 TO MAKE SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA LEGAL TO PEOPLE 21 AND OLDER? BRIEFLY, WHY?
I oppose initiative 502. Our medical marijuana system would be jeopardized by this new law. The federal government has made it very clear that they are going to come after the recreational use of marijuana, so passing this initiative would give some people the false impression that marijuana use is now legal, even though it will remain illegal under federal law.