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0000017b-f971-ddf0-a17b-fd73f3950000Election coverage from SPR and the Northwest News Network:Statewide Election: WashingtonSpokane County ElectionStatewide Election: IdahoStatewide Election: OregonU.S. House and Senate

Benn Runs Small Campaign Against Rep. Riccelli Again

Paige Browning
Spokane Public Radio

State Representative Marcus Riccelli and local daycare owner Tim Benn have been through this before. Benn is running for district-three state representative, after losing to Riccelli 37-percent to 63-percent in 2012. This race pits true-blue democrat Riccelli, against anti-special interest candidate Benn. It’s a civil race, with neither candidate throwing sharp attacks at the other, but their differences are clear.

Campaign platforms:

Riccelli’s priorities remain the same as when he was first elected.

Riccelli: “Making sure that we’re creating jobs, we’re making sure that we have great neighborhood schools, and that we’re making investments in those schools, and making sure that folks can have a livable wage in this community.”

And he’s not afraid to create new funding sources, i.e. taxes, for some of those priorities. Benn has a smaller government approach. He scoffs at taking campaign money from special interest groups because he won’t have anyone buy his vote - that’s also why he switched from Republican to Independent-R - and he wants the state to tighten it’s budget.

Benn: “There’s a lot of tax proposals on the table right now, and my opponent is in favor of every tax proposal that’s there, and I’m not seeing where the government has tightened its belt the way people have.”

Benn says he is running against the machine. And that is reflected on campaign finance reports with the Public Disclosure Commission. You’ll likely hear a lot more from Riccelli this year, as he has about 110-thousand dollars raised, compared with Benn’s roughly eight-thousand in mostly individual contributions.

Basic Education and Medical Schools:

On statewide issues, finances again dictate viewpoints. The state Supreme Court found the legislature in contempt for not funding basic education. Riccelli says he and other house Democrats are looking at closing some tax loopholes.

Riccelli: “These are loopholes that are either outdated that are on the books… and our JLOC committee has looked as these and says they are not creating jobs, they are not providing any incentives, and I think we should shut those down. And that’s a heck of a start, now that doesn’t get us to where we need to be, but a billion dollars is a heck of a start.”

Tim Benn says what is being asked of the legislature is unrealistic. He also says there is no accountability for the school financing.

Benn: “So we can pump as much money as we want into something, if we don’t have accountability in how the money is getting spent, if they are spending it doing research projects and contracting for all sorts of different purposes and its not getting to the classroom, then its not getting to education.”

The two also disagree on a hot topic in education right now: the proposed Spokane medical school. Riccelli fought for money for the current Riverpoint campus buildings, and says this year he will fight for a fully fledged Spokane medical school. Tim Benn says he’s not yet sure a new med school is a responsible way to spend money.

Benn: “If the students prefer to go to Seattle for their education, cause UW is one of the top rated medical schools in the country. So if the market’s there we could do it, if it’s not then it’s not responsible to use state tax dollars for two colleges… to compete against each other.”

The med school brings home the main platforms of both candidates campaigns. Riccelli wants to support state projects, ranging from basic education to the North South Corridor, and Benn wants to tighten the government’s budget and save citizens money.

Ballot and state issues:

A quick roundup of other state issues goes like this: on marijuana tax revenue Riccelli thinks it should go to public health, public safety, and public education, while Tim Benn thinks it should go to drug rehabilitation and low income resources. On the initiative to expand background checks for gun sales, Riccelli supports it and Benn is against it. And on discussion about increasing the minimum wage, Benn is adamantly against it, while Riccelli thinks voters should have the opportunity to decide.

Democratic incumbent Marcus Riccelli spent the last two years in the state house climbing the ranks to vice chair of the Health Care and Wellness Committee, and serves on the capital budget and transportation committees. Challenger Tim Benn says he has already started working for citizens, too. Last year he traveled back and forth to Olympia working on a bill that removed day-care policies that he says were burdensome.

Voters in Spokane’s third legislative district will decide between the two candidates.

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio

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