Sen. Doug Ericksen as candidate answers questions in Lynden Saturday. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

It is a campaign event, he says, helping him hear out voters

LYNDEN ­— If Democrats strengthen their control of the state Legislature, Sen. Doug Ericksen believes, they will try to pass income, capital gains and Seattle-style head taxes, he said at a campaign stop at the Lynden Community Center on Saturday.

Ericksen also clearly marked out his opposition to initiatives 1631 and 1639, which respectively put a fee on carbon producers and add restrictions on buying and owning guns. Both measures will be on the Nov. 6 ballot, along with the Republican incumbent’s 42nd District state Senate seat.

Ericksen has set 10 gatherings across his north Whatcom district, events put on by his campaign, and Saturday brought the first three, at Birch Bay, Laurel and Lynden. Two more were Tuesday in Deming and Kendall, and this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. he is in Pioneer Pavilion of Ferndale.

He said he sees these a proactive way of making direct contact with voters in an election year. The cost is on his campaign.

Directly asked a question about it Saturday, Ericksen said his opponent, Bellingham City Council member Pinky Vargas, is more liberal than past opponents he has faced, and she will go along with Seattle Democrats who very narrowly hold a Senate edge now.

He said he has asked for six individual public debates with Vargas, and so far she has declined the offer.

Ericksen claims in a Monday press release that Vargas is pursuing campaign funding and support more from the Seattle area than in the 42nd District itself.

To a crowd of about 30 in Lynden, Ericksen addressed assorted questions for 90 minutes. Among his comments:

• The carbon fee of I-1631 “never stops” and will increase gasoline, home heating and manufacturing costs, putting Washington at a competitive disadvantage on energy while doing virtually nothing to actually counter climate change.

If you feel the state is not doing enough to stop global warming, you should vote for I-1631, he said. But “it’s easy to be a leader if your job is not on the line.”

He is open to new and renewable forms of energy generation to replace fossil fuels, but hearings held by a committee Ericksen is on show that “the technology is not there yet,” he said.

Washington should be marketing its low-cost hydropower energy rather than adding news taxes.

• With Washington as a sales tax state — and as more commerce is online — it is critical that cyber sales of product to Washington buyers have the sales tax figured in, and that it be paid.

• Ericksen said Republicans in a mostly minority role in Olympia have had to “play defense” stopping bad ideas from becoming law, an energy tax being one example, and they can continue to play that role.

He touted what a Republican-led Senate coalition (until last year) was able to do to hold the line on excessive spending and yet boost K-12 education support and provide college tuition relief.

• Ericksen expects I-1639 on firearms, if passed, to be immediately challenged on its constitutionality as well as on how petitions were presented to voters. But the best action is to vote it down for the many “unknowns” hidden in the language.

• To a question on safeguarding schools, Ericksen cited his open discussion with students at Meridian High School — the only school in the county to let him do so — last March that produced an “amazing” range of discussion, including students’ urging of better monitoring and intervention of peers who show mental-health risks.

• He called attention to a one-year property tax blip that is hitting everyone across the state this year, as an unnecessary side effect of the McCleary education funding fix of the Legislature. Ericksen pushed last term to provide some tax relief; the effort lost 25-24 in the Senate. Next year, taxpayers in rural school districts such as Whatcom’s will see their tax bills much reduced.

• A supporter of President Trump, Ericksen echoed administration stands in favor of a wall on the Mexican border, relaxation of government rules to ease up on businesses, and opposition of sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants. But those are federal issues and not state ones, he said.

• He critiqued the major national broadcast networks and news organizations as being anti-Trump — “regime change is their goal” — and he said even Seattle and state media “have an agenda” against conservatives such as himself.

Afterwards, Ericksen said he intends to attend any typical sponsored candidate forums for his race too, and he is concerned to encourage voter turnout in a year without a high-profile statewide or national race on the ballot.