Four Republicans vie for 20th District

All candidates mark eduction, economy, jobs as top priorities

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: October 13, 2012, 11:41 PM

 
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John Braun's candidate survey

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Ed Orcutt's candidate survey

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Dan Swecker's candidate survey

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John Morgan's candidate survey

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For 20th District

Senate:

John Braun

Party: Republican

Residence: Centralia

Age: 45

Campaign website:

www.johnbraunforstatesenate.com

Campaign finances: $79,076

Dan Swecker

Party: Republican

Residence: Rochester

Age: 65

Campaign website:

www.danswecker.com

Campaign finances: $123,403

State Representative:

Ed Orcutt

Party: Republican

Residence: Kalama

Age: 49

Campaign website: www.repedorcutt.c...

Campaign finances: $95,106

John Morgan

Residence: Rochester

Party: Republican

Age: 49

Campaign website: johnmorgan4stcongress.nationbuilder.com

Campaign finances: Does not intend to raise or spend more than $5,000.

Clark County’s 20th District voters will decide among four Republicans for the House and Senate positions in this year’s election.

While voters don’t have their pick between political parties, both races draw a mix of seasoned politicians and newcomers.

Following redistricting, a state House representative in the 18th District, Ed Orcutt of Kalama, is now running in the 20th District, which stretches from just south of Olympia to northern Clark County.

His challenger, John Morgan of Rochester, has no political background and said he is running to “address regulations and the critical issues of employment, education and health care from the perspective of the members of my community.”

In the Senate, incumbent Dan Swecker, who has served since 1995, is vying against John Braun, a Centralia businessman.

Improving the economy and funding basic programs is a top priority for all candidates.

Orcutt said his top goals in office are boosting job growth, improving funding to education, public safety and seniors, and preventing tax increases. He emphasizes basic education.

One idea he listed in a Columbian questionnaire is to “utilize a portion of existing local levies to enable the state to fully fund education (more money from Puget Sound would help schools in Clark/Cowlitz County, without a tax increase.)”

Morgan, an owner of a trucking company, emphasizes the importance of fiscal responsibility by legislators and promised to be a disciplined state representative if elected. “First of all, the will of the 20th determines my votes in the House because it’s their vote not mine,” he wrote in a candidate questionnaire.

Swecker v. Braun

Political newcomer Braun has outraised Swecker, $123,403 to $79,076. In the August primary election, Braun also led by 9 percentage points.

Swecker said he’s running on a platform of having unfinished business in the Legislature. He places an emphasis on simplifying the permit process to continue to save the state money and attract businesses.

“The Columbia River, I-5 and the location next to Oregon are key factors in Clark County’s future,” Swecker wrote in a Columbian questionnaire. “We need more specialized education programs to train people for the jobs that will exist in the next 10 years.”

In terms of basic education, Swecker said he would consider eliminating unfunded mandates. “Next, we should consider substituting the unused portion of the state’s share of the property tax for the special levies now used to fund the essential elements of basic education. This would result in a property tax reduction for most property owners.”

Braun, the president of Braun Northwest, a company that manufactures emergency vehicles, would bring a crucial perspective to the Senate, he said. That’s because manufacturing is a key driver for economic growth, along with farming and resource development, he said.

In his candidate questionnaire, Braun laid out specific plans to create jobs in Clark County. He calls for reducing workers’ compensation insurance costs by allowing private insurance plans, reducing unemployment insurance costs and simplifying the business tax structure.

As for the topic of basic education, Braun said: “Improve transparency in education spending. When the public, parents and elected officials know where tax dollars are going, we are all better able to address problems, such as rising administrative costs and failing students.”

The district’s second House seat is held by Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, who is the House Minority Leader and running unopposed for re-election. Ballots will be mailed Monday.