Newcomer challenges Ericksen for state Senate

Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, wants to move from the state House into the Senate, but first he must persuade voters...

By Ryan Wynne

Decriminalize marijuana and save the state $100 million per year — that’s one thing the state could do to help balance the budget, Pat Jerns said.

And just who is Pat Jerns? He is the CEO and team leader at Keller Williams Western Realty in Bellingham and he is the Democrat challenging Rep. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, for the Washington State Senate seat currently held by Sen. Dale Brandland, R-Whatcom County.

Jerns is a newcomer to the political scene, which may explain Ericksen’s overwhelming win in the primary. Jerns and Ericksen were the only candidates in that race, and Ericksen took nearly 62 percent of votes while Jerns picked up slightly less than 39 percent.

If those results are a simple matter of name recognition, Jerns still has until Nov. 2 to get his name out there and let voters know who he is and why he’s running.

Why is he running? Because the state is in a crisis right now and Olympia needs the best senators possible, he said, not just those who have been in the Legislature before or who have name recognition.

“I think we need people down there that will take a business approach to managing the problems,” Jerns said.

Jerns’ approach would include making cuts, not raising taxes, though he said he does support Initiative 1098, which would impose an income tax on workers earning $200,000 or more. Explaining that apparent contradiction, Jerns said he supports I-1098 because it would eliminate the B&O tax for a majority of small businesses, helping to create jobs.

There aren’t any areas that should be immune to cuts, he said. But also said he wants to preserve state programs, especially education, and believes many cuts can be made without hurting programs. For instance, he said, certain in-house state services such as printing could be privatized, but analysis should be done first to determine if that’s the most cost-effective approach.

This is a point where he and Ericksen, who has about 12 years of experience in the Legislature, are in at least partial agreement. Ericksen said he has been pushing the Legislature to privatize many state-provided services for years now, and some of those services, such as ferry service and the state workers’ compensation program, have ended up costing the state too much money.

Ericksen said he is encouraged, because now others are also starting to see the need for those kinds of changes. It’s like a company, he said: If a corporation is facing budget shortfalls, it does what it must to balance its budget while carrying out key functions.

“You scale back and focus on your core mission,” Ericksen said.

Those essential functions, he said, include K-12 public education, infrastructure, maintenance, development, public safety and providing a safety net for the truly needy.

Judging from information on the Public Disclosure Commission’s website, Ericksen’s platform is attracting more financial supporters, including some with deep pockets. As of Oct. 11, he had 33 pages of contributors and had raised $138,549. Jerns had five pages and $15,958.

Doug Ericksen: Republican Party candidate
Bio: Ericksen has been a State Representative for 12 years. He has served as the Deputy Republican Leader and House Republican Floor Leader, among others. Before the legislature, he briefly worked for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Endorsements: Whatcom Republicans, Physical Therapy Association of Washington, Building Industry Association of Whatcom County
Amount raised: $138,549
Notable contributors: Anheuser-Bush, BP North America Employee PAC, Broadband Communications Association of Washington PAC, Gun Owners Action League of Washington, Health Insurance Agents PAC, Puget Sound Energy, Wal-Mart, Washington Affordable Housing Council, Washington Association of Realtors PAC

Note: All financial information was obtained on Oct. 11 from the Public Disclosure Commission’s website.

Pat Jerns: Democratic Party candidate
Bio: Jerns has worked in the business sector for 50 years, more than 30 of which he spent in real estate. He is currently the CEO and team leader at Keller Williams Western Realty in Bellingham
Endorsements: Whatcom Women Democrats, Washington State Labor Council, Planned Parenthood Votes
Amount raised: $15,958
Notable contributors: Lummi Nation’s Silver Reef Casino, NW Washington Building & Construction, Ironworkers District Council of the Pacific Northwest, Washington State Committee on Political Education, Working People for Northwest Washington, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers  Local Union 191

Note: All financial information was obtained on Oct. 11 from the Public Disclosure Commission’s website.

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One thought on “Newcomer challenges Ericksen for state Senate

  1. I find it a little ironic that the Association of Realtors supports Doug Ericksen and not Pat Jerns despite the fact that Pat is a member of the Association of Realtors.

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