ANACORTES — Candidates running for a state Senate seat, the Anacortes City Council, Anacortes School District Board and Port of Anacortes Commission took part Tuesday night in a forum.
The forum was hosted by the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce.
Incumbent state Sen. Liz Lovelett, a Democrat from Anacortes, faces challenger Daniel Miller, a Republican from San Juan Island, for the 40th Legislative District seat.
The candidates faced questions on health care and tax reform.
Lovelett said to pay for the state’s mental and behavioral health system, an overhaul of the tax code is needed. She said she would support both a capital gains tax and income tax.
“We need to fundamentally look at what can be removed, changed, and what structure can be added,” she said.
Miller said he would not support new taxes, and that millions of dollars are available in overseas government investments.
“I want to return money to citizens of Washington in a tax rebate,” he said.
Questions on affordable housing, economic opportunities and the Guemes Channel Trail were asked of the Anacortes City Council candidates.
Ward 2 candidate Christine-Cleland McGrath said the city’s new development regulations allow for more duplexes, accessory dwelling units and multi-family buildings. She said the city could consider public-private partnerships to build housing on vacant land near Sharpes Corner.
Opponent Dom Tor Fleming said Anacortes needs stronger incentives for affordable housing and proposed an affordable housing equity fund.
Ward 1 incumbent Ryan Walters said the City Council needs to be responsive to community concerns as new developments are proposed, while challenger John Schryvers said the city should allow taller downtown buildings — six to seven stories — to address the housing shortage.
All candidates expressed support for completion of the Guemes Channel Trail, which would connect the State Ferries terminal with downtown.
Carolyn Moulton, incumbent in the at-large Position 6 seat, said the trail is a priority and that two million people each year travel from the ferry landing to downtown. She said to complete the trail, the city needs to improve community outreach and engagement.
Moulton’s opponent, John Espinoza, did not attend the forum.
In response to a question on attracting businesses, Schryvers said the city should do everything it can to lower operating costs, including easing zoning restrictions.
Walters said the new development regulations make it easier for businesses to get building permits and that the city’s new municipal fiber optic network will attract business.
Cleland-McGrath said Anacortes has opportunities with vacant land zoned for light manufacturing, and ultimately housing is needed so workers can afford to live here. Fleming said Anacortes needs to do more to get companies from Seattle to set up in Anacortes.
Ward 3 candidate Jeremy Carter is running unopposed. James Finley withdrew from the race, though his name will appear on the ballot.
Carter said one of the biggest issues facing companies is the shortage of labor and that Anacortes should do more to encourage students to explores careers in the trades.