Candidates for the 35th District House, post 1

Rep. Dan Griffey, a Republican from Allyn who held the 35th District, Position 1 seat for four terms, is seeking a fifth term in the Nov. 8 election. He is challenged by Democrat James DeHart, a Mason County government employee.

The Kitsap Sun asked contestants to answer seven questions. Their responses follow:

James DeHart

Age: 40

Actual job: Public Records Officer for Mason County Commissioners Office

Previous experience as an elected official: First time candidate

To party: Democratic

Campaign Contributions: $16,707.02

Q: Inflation is a challenge for many. What should the Legislative Assembly do to help those struggling with rising gas and food prices?

A: The legislator should consider a temporary suspension of the gasoline tax and possibly a lowering of the sales tax rate as a means of offsetting the effects of inflation.

Q: The police reform legislation has raised the barrier preventing law enforcement agencies from engaging in car chases against people suspected of a crime. Do you support the law as is or do you think it should be changed?

A: I think we need to keep reviewing policing because our society is constantly changing and there are many laws that we can change or repeal depending on the needs of society.

Q: Should the legislature make drug possession a felony, as it was before the state Supreme Court declared Washington’s simple possession law unconstitutional?

A: No, drug addicts need help dealing with addiction and other drug use issues, rather than having a criminal record which could ruin their chances of getting a job and other services that could be denied simply because of a criminal record.

Q: Should abortion access be included in the Washington State Constitution?

A: Yes.

Q: Washington State is struggling to provide beds for psychiatric patients, especially young ones, and Western State has a waiting list of criminal justice system patients. What can be done to ensure access to mental health care?

A: We need to work on funding mental health care like we were supposed to after hospitals closed in the mid to late 20th century. We dropped the ball too long and are now in crisis mode trying to find a solution to this problem.

Q: What can the legislature do to address rising homelessness in Washington cities?

A: The Legislature can help find funding for Tiny House Villages, homeless shelters and community programs.

Q: What can the legislature do to help ferry service to ferry-dependent communities become reliable again?

A: The ferry system is a vital part of life here in the western part of the state. Because we have lost ferry employees due to covid mandates, we need to review this policy and find common sense hiring solutions to attract new talent to these jobs and ensure our workforce is complete and able to provide these services.

Daniel Griffey

Age: 51

Actual job: Retired firefighter since June 1, 2022

Previous experience as an elected official: State Legislator 35th District Position 1

To party: Republican

Campaign Contributions: $115,708.42 (as of September 26)

Daniel Griffey

Q: Inflation is a challenge for many. What should the Legislative Assembly do to help those struggling with rising gas and food prices?

A: We have recently had several years of record revenue surpluses. That being said, we also saw a plethora of new programming and the rainy day fund looted. We need to give Washingtonians a break. Let’s take this opportunity to reduce our gas tax and our property taxes. Let us fully fund existing programs and withhold new programs until we stabilize and can justify, with the support of the people, new additional spending on our citizens.

Q: The police reform legislation has raised the barrier preventing law enforcement agencies from engaging in car chases against people suspected of a crime. Do you support the law as is or do you think it should be changed?

A: I voted no on these changes and testified before the House about the devastation they would bring to the lives of the people of Washington. The police reform legislation was flawed on several levels. It encourages criminal activity without repercussions and ignores the needs and safety of victims and the general public. Pursuit can be dangerous; however, I know our law enforcement professionals are well aware of this as they use every tool at their disposal to protect us and their loved ones as they risk their own lives for us. I do not support the legislation as is and am currently partnering with emergency responders to modify the changes. I am grateful that our use of firefighters and emergency medical devices has also not been affected by these reckless changes.

Q: Should the legislature make drug possession a felony, as it was before the state Supreme Court declared Washington’s simple possession law unconstitutional?

A: I currently sit on a committee discussing proposed changes to the law. We hear from many citizens and organizations who will be directly affected. Legalizing these drugs (while limiting painkillers for those who receive a medical prescription) will have a devastating impact on our community and, like our new crime laws, will actually encourage drug use in our communities. I would like to have more tools available to our correctional facilities that could help drug addicts recover.

Q: Should abortion access be included in the Washington State Constitution?

A: No.

Q: Washington State is struggling to provide beds for psychiatric patients, especially young ones, and Western State has a waiting list of criminal justice system patients. What can be done to ensure access to mental health care?

A: Access to mental health care affects everyone in Washington in one way or another. There are specific rules to follow to keep the funding. Due to the lack of compliance, we have stepped back.

My eldest daughter suffers from mental illness. My wife and I have overcome all the obstacles we could and have yet to get adequate help from her. She is self-medicating and has chosen homelessness and addiction over housing.

I have visited most of our homeless camps looking for her and answers. The causes are many, as are the obstacles. I brought a Democratic lawmaker representing an urban district to the 35th and we are teaming up with stakeholders to formulate an action plan to address the crisis. Intervention is never easy, but watching people die abandoned is much more difficult. Compassion is not ignoring the problem, but moving mountains in the direction of recovery and help for all.

Q: What can the legislature do to address rising homelessness in Washington cities?

A: Much of our homelessness crisis is due to the mental health and addictions that I spoke about above. However, we have a housing affordability crisis that needs to be addressed.

Housing is a supply and demand issue. Right now we have limited availability of accommodations and that is driving up costs for everyone. Those selling a home can often afford higher prices when buying, but first-time home buyers are left out.

Although we have assistance programs for down payments etc., there are still barriers to home ownership for many. One way to reduce costs is to increase availability. We can achieve this by streamlining permits, limiting regulations, and making it easier for our builders to build statewide without additional requirements. Some have also suggested 40-year mortgages to combat this. Reducing property taxes will also make payments more affordable.

Q: What can the legislature do to help ferry service to ferry-dependent communities become reliable again?

A: Eliminate the requirement of the Covid vaccine to be employed. By eliminating the vaccine requirement and recognizing the CDC’s recommendations that natural immunity is as effective as vaccine, we could re-employ many, from state patrol and fire departments to ferry workers and to educators. We need to stop discriminating against those who have made personal health care decisions. The big question is: are those who have been made redundant ready to work for us again and bring back their years of dedication and experience?

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