Filing week begins: Quiz candidates on education funding, transportation, and the skills gap

This is the filing week, when candidates declare their intent to run in the 2014 elections.

This year’s ballot includes all 10 U.S. House seats, including the open seat in the 4th District in Eastern Washington where Doc Hastings is retiring, the secretary of state’s office said.

Also on the ballot are all 98 members of the state House, about half of the 49-member Senate and four state Supreme Court seats, including the seat of retiring Justice Jim Johnson.

In my column today, I focus on the legislative races, suggesting that voters begin now to screen their candidates on critical issues. Begin with the presumption that most candidates want to do the right thing, but hold onto some skepticism.

Sure, there are preeners and schemers, interest group water carriers, and those who just want to be famous in their hometowns. But forget the crack about 99 percent of politicians giving the rest a bad name. The majority of candidates genuinely want to get something done, to improve the community and expand opportunity.

Along the way, some of them can do a great deal of damage. Wanting to do good is not the same thing as doing good.

Doing good begins with doing the hard work of understanding the issues and suggesting solutions to vexing problems.

The coming legislative session will be one of the most difficult in decades, more challenging in some respects than the tough recessionary years.

Too much of the recession lingers. Improving the public schools, funding transportation and assuring that people have the skills they need to succeed will contribute to a stronger economy and growing opportunity. All this must be accomplished with an awareness of budget constraints and responsible tax policy. 

So far, as the Spokesman-Review editorial board wrote, lawmakers have failed to make their case when it comes to education funding. They could have written the same editorial about transportation.