Our Voice: Jansons for state House, 8th District

State Rep. Brad Klippert is a cheerful, affable legislator who says what he thinks.

He is a full-time deputy with the Benton County Sheriff’s Department and school resource officer in Benton City, and was recently promoted to full colonel and commander of the Washington State Guard.

These admirable qualities have earned the four-term Kennewick Republican a loyal following in District 8, where he hopes to continue his legislative run.

He says he believes in public service and we believe he sincerely wants to be helpful.

Our struggle, however, is that during his past term Klippert showed a puzzling tendency to focus on issues that were unrealistic, unnecessary and a waste of valuable time.

The most important legislative decision on the horizon is how the state will fund K-12 education and meet its obligation outlined in the McCleary lawsuit.

Enter Rick Jansons, also a Republican and Klippert’s opponent. Jansons has a long track record of community leadership, including past executive director of Habitat for Humanity.

But more importantly, Jansons is a longtime member and current president of the Richland School Board, and a past chair of the Washington State School Directors Legislative Committee.

His insight into school funding issues would be invaluable in the state political arena. He offers a fresh perspective that is lacking among our current group of legislators.

Jansons believes the state needs to reconsider its definition of basic education and bring our school system into the 21st century instead of basing it on a model that is decades old.

We like his thinking.

Jansons said schools should be allowed to provide more individualized instruction and innovative teaching models. He believes the emphasis on standardized tests and college preparation is not appropriate for all students, and that more opportunities should be available for apprenticeship programs and online instruction.

In addition to his experience on educational issues, Jansons has a solid grasp of wider priorities facing the state, and we think he would put his energies toward issues that matter most in our region.

Unlike Klippert, who has had a penchant for spending time on bills that go nowhere.

For instance, Klippert was a secondary sponsor of a bill that examined splitting eastern and western Washington into two states. And he was primary sponsor of a bill that would have our side join with Eastern Oregon.

The notion of an Eastern Washington secession is ridiculous, and it would be economically disastrous. But Klippert still adamantly supports the idea.

He also caught statewide attention when he sponsored a bill limiting what kind of flag could fly over state ferries. He was prompted by a rainbow-striped flag symbolizing gay pride that was flown during Seattle’s Pride weekend last year.

Klippert had said that ferries owned by Washington state citizens should refrain from partisan actions, and he considered that a partisan act.

In addition, he voted against the transportation package that is helping fund key projects around the Tri-Cities, including the Red Mountain interchange, the Lewis Street overpass in Pasco, a bridge at Ridgeline Drive in Kennewick and the Duportail Street bridge over the Yakima River in Richland.

Klippert said he opposed the package because 85 percent of the people who attended a town hall meeting were against the 11.9-cent tax increase needed to fund it.

Jansons said he would have voted in favor of the package, and that —while he understood Klippert’s rationale — he wouldn’t only consider the message from one gathering of constituents.

We think Jansons would take a broader approach to legislative issues and his experience on the Richland School Board would be an added plus as the Legislature continues to tackle the school funding dilemma.

The Tri- City Herald recommends Rick Jansons for state representative in the 8th District.

Look for our recommendation Thursday between state Rep. Terry Nealy, R-Dayton, and Democrat Gary Downing, Kennewick, for state House, 16th District.