Candidates for the Washington state 8th District legislative seat are widely divided on social issues, differing in their support for gay rights to legalized marijuana.
Rep. Brad Klippert of Kennewick, who has represented the Tri-Cities-based district for five terms, falls on the conservative end of the Republican spectrum.
He is being challenged by Richland Democrat Shir Regev, who could be considered a progressive on social issues.
Klippert has been a law enforcement officer for 24 years and is a commander in the Washington State Guard and a licensed minister.
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Regev is a Hanford senior health physics technician and served in the Peace Corps. She’s a Mid-Columbia native, born to immigrants from Israel.
Both are military veterans.
At a recent League of Women Voters forum in Richland, both were asked whether they would advocate for lesbians, gays, bisexual, transexuals and others.
“I support the people. Do I support the lifestyles and practices? No, I do not,” Klippert said.
He supports the marriage of one man and one woman so children can be raised by a mother and father, he said.
“I support men using men’s bathroom and women using women’s bathrooms,” he said.
Regev said that as an openly lesbian candidate she, of course, supports her LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
She’s concerned about individuals, including some home-schooled students, who stand outside Tri-City high schools protesting LGBTQ students.
“My expectation is that during school hours (home-school) children are learning and not harassing other students,” she said.
She said she won’t be writing or supporting any legislation damaging to LGBTQ individuals who already have a higher than average suicide rate.
On the issue of whether legalizing marijuana harmed or hurt the 8th District, Klippert sees no good from the change.
“It is hurting young people,” he said, drawing on his observations as a school resource officer. “I have seen it destroy marriages. I have seen it destroy individual lives.”
It also could cost the state’s Medicaid program, since marijuana has more carcinogens that tobacco, he claimed.
Regev said as a Hanford nuclear site employee, she does not use marijuana. But she said she’s seen legalization create new industries and bring pot tourism to the area.
It’s generated millions of dollars in tax revenue and may be taxed too heavily to be an effective deterrent to black market drugs, she said.
Klippert’s vote, along with most lawmakers in Olympia in 2018, to exempt the Legislature from the state Public Records Act also was questioned at the forum.
The bill passed by the Legislature was vetoed by the Gov. Jay Inslee after he received more than 6,300 phone calls and 12,500 emails.
“Transparency is very important,” Klippert said, however, he added that personal information in emails from constituents should not be released to the public.
Regev said that privacy, when needed, should be the exception rather than the rule.
“Everything needs to be done to make records as public as possible,” she said. “There was a public outcry for a reason.”
In the primary election, Klippert received 50 percent of the votes. Regev, the only Democrat running, received 34 percent. Republican Phillip Lemley had 16 percent of the votes and did not move on to the November election.
Klippert has raised $39,100 and Regev has raised $7,529, nearly half of that in donations from herself, according to state Public Disclosure Commission records.
Klippert’s largest donations of $2,000 are from law enforcement, dental, affordable housing and banking groups or PACs, plus the Washington Affordable Housing Council.