Klippert, Clough face off for state House seat

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldOctober 19, 2012 

Jay Clough and Brad Klippert have a few things in common.

Both men were raised in the Mid-Columbia, support Second Amendment gun rights and are advocates for nuclear and hydroelectric energy.

They also said more needs to be done to strengthen education and the economy in the Mid-Columbia.

But they differ broadly in how they'd go about achieving their goals as they seek election to the state's 8th Legislative District on Nov. 6.

Klippert, a Republican, wants a third term in the state House.

Clough, a Democrat, is making his second attempt at public office in as many years -- failing in 2010 to unseat Congressman Doc Hastings.

With the economy still struggling and the state facing a Washington State Supreme Court order to fully fund K-12 education, both candidates have provided alternative ideas on how they would approach each issue.

Klippert grew up in Sunnyside, while Clough was raised in the Tri-Cities and graduated from Kennewick High School.

Both men are veterans, with Clough having served with the Marine Corps for four years and Klippert with the Army Reserves. And both have college degrees, Clough from Central Washington University and Klippert from Northwest College.

Klippert is a school resource officer in the Kiona-Benton City School District as a deputy with the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Clough is a radiological control technician.

Klippert said there's no quick fix to getting the economy back on track. He said reforming the state Department of Social and Health Services and the worker compensation program could save money. Most importantly, the state has to become business-friendly by toning down laws and statutes that affect businesses, rather than creating more bureaucracy.

"Businesses are afraid when the government comes calling," he said.

Clough said he wants to focus on job creation in the Mid-Columbia, such as enticing firms involved with green energy, particularly manufacturing-related jobs.

He'd seek to support the wine industry while advocating for infrastructure projects, such as the Red Mountain Interchange off Interstate 82 near West Richland, and expand the Tri-Cities Airport before residential encroachment makes that difficult.

"Government doesn't create jobs, but it facilitates their creation," Clough said.

Each said he also would approach education differently.

Clough opposes the ballot initiative to create charter schools, saying it drains more money from public education, and he wants to close loopholes in the state's tax code to bring in more money to fully fund it -- as required by the state Supreme Court.

"We have some tax breaks that have been on the books since the '30s and haven't been re-evaluated," Clough said.

Klippert said K-12 education is a paramount duty of his party and said much needs to be done to properly fund it and make sure the best teachers are in the classroom.

"We need to recruit, retain and reward the best and brightest," Klippert said.

Klippert said he is supportive of charter schools, though acknowledged they don't always succeed. He said it wouldn't be a bad idea to consider eliminating some tax breaks, but the state Legislature would need to be careful so jobs weren't lost.

The ability of either candidate to be successful in Olympia also is an issue.

Klippert pointed out his level support in the district, garnering more than 60 percent of the vote in 2010. In recent years, Republicans have been the minority party in Olympia, and Klippert described himself as a "minority within a minority" because of his hyper-conservative views. However, he said he has built bridges with Democrats.

"I'm not a politician; I'm a leader involved in politics," Klippert said.

Clough, while a Democrat, describes himself as a conservative Democrat who believes in limited government, the Second Amendment and a few other typically conservative stances.

"What makes me a Democrat is I don't think the government is the devil," Clough said. "The government is us."

-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com

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