The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
Candidate for governor talks higher ed, jobs
By JACK CLINCH, Editor in Chief
Published: November 7, 2012
Rob McKenna, Washington’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, made a quick stop at Seattle Pacific University Monday on his last full campaigning day and spoke about his plan to fund higher education and answer student questions.
McKenna gave a brief speech and answered student questions in the library for 30 minutes before taking a photo with attendees and touring campus.
Washington’s current attorney general was engaged in a very close race for the state’s highest office with Jay Inslee, a sitting Democratic congressman.
“[The polls] are within the margin of error,” said Charles McCray, the campaign’s communication director. “It’s going to come down to turnout.”
McKenna also made appearances the same day at University of Washington campuses in Tacoma and Seattle and planned to spend time later at a campaign phone bank in Issaquah.
McKenna’s talk emphasized his plans to bolster higher education in the state.
“The middle class is being priced out of a college education,” he said, referring to his intention to increase the share of the state budget that is spent on higher education.
“Our per-capita participation in higher education is third from the bottom [in national rankings],” he said, adding later that Washington is the “biggest importer of people with college degrees in America.” McKenna cited large tech businesses headquartered in the state, such as Amazon and Microsoft.
The state legislature is currently under an order from the State Supreme Court to increase funding to higher education.
McKenna also responded to a question on his stances on the four state ballot measures.
McKenna supports Initiative 1240, which, if approved, would allow for the limited introduction of publicly funded, independent charter schools.
“I think it’s an option that families should have,” he said.
He also supports Initiative 1195, which would require a two-thirds majority in the state legislature to increase taxes.
“Voters have approved this measure time after time, and we ought to listen to them,” he said.
McKenna said he opposes Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage.
“My religious beliefs don’t allow me to vote to redefine marriage,” he said. He also stated, however, that a referendum was the right way to decide the issue – as opposed to the January vote in the state legislature that is being reviewed by voters as R74.
McKenna also opposes Initiative 502, which passed and will legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational consumption in the state.
“I’m not in favor of legalizing something that could still be illegal under federal law,” he said.
Current federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, making it illegal for any purpose, including medicinal ones.
The SPU College Republicans club hosted the event.
“I think it’s really impactful that he came here on his last day of campaigning,” said Allyson Meadows, the club’s president.
“I think it’s great that he wanted to talk to young people,” said Savannah Carlson, another member of the College Republicans.
Students in attendance ranged from ardent supporters of McKenna to those who may have voted for Inslee.
“I’m just fascinated with elections – the process, the season,” senior Aaron Yarnell said.
“It’s not every day that you get to talk to a really prominent politician on campus,” senior Linette Madeja said.
The candidate also noted that he shares a name with Dr. Robert McKenna, a psychology professor at SPU.
“I still get his mail sometimes,” he said.