Friday, May 14, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

Paul Leonard can be reached at

Keeping them (kind of) honest

Call center employee. Bookbinder. Telephone switchboard operator.

To this list of endangered occupations, add one more group of professionals: political incumbent.

With Oregon one of four states across the U.S. readying for a primary election Tuesday, a turn against the political establishment is already apparent in many races. And though Washington voters still have three months until our own primary, the political jockeying and mudslinging has already begun in earnest throughout the Evergreen State.

Where does this growing political tempest leave the VBJ – or any other business publication for that matter?

Quietly, without fanfare, VBJ publisher John McDonagh and I have either met or are about to meet with candidates running in contests throughout the region, including the 3rd Congressional District and 17th State Legislative District races.

These conversations have been informal and, for the most part, off-the-record, since like many of our readers, we want to know what makes these men and women tick before we grill them on matters of fiscal and public policy.

But what will be most-decidedly ON-the-record are the candidates’ positions on national issues like reform of the U.S. financial system, regional issues like business lending and job creation (or the lack thereof) and “everywhere issues” like taxes.

And as is only appropriate in a column boasting the credo, “Just Business,” those candidates will have to leave the partisan name-calling at the door.

From the statewide battle for Sen. Patty Murray’s seat to the local wrangling to replace state Rep. Deb Wallace, Washington voters have a chance this year to make a big difference in the region’s course out of economic recession into full-fledged recovery.

So here’s a call for questions and/or concerns that you think need to be addressed by the candidates.

In the coming weeks and months ahead, the VBJ will highlight candidates and races of interest to Southwest Washington’s business community. And though we can’t promise a straight answer to every question sent to us by our readers, we can guarantee to do something perhaps too many politicians have failed to do in the past:

We’ll listen.