1:45 pm, a coffee shop, Spokane, east side of downtown. That guy who looks like Jay Inslee? Yeah, it's Jay Inslee.
Yes, indeed, the man who wants to be governor stopped in Spokane this afternoon for a brief chat with The Inlander about a whole bunch of things, from wind power to Washington State University.
In case you haven't been keeping track, Inslee, a former Democratic congressman from Western Washington who also did a stint in Congress and the state Legislature representing central Washington, is no shoo-in for the governorship. Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna continues to poll strongly against Inslee. A poll by KING 5 released last week shows McKenna leading by two points over Inslee.
But the talk in that darkened coffee shop wasn't about the horse race; rather it was about how an Inslee administration would affect the Lilac City. Here's what the former congressman had to say:
Do you have any thoughts on the coal trains that come through Spokane?
There are about five coal ports being considered in Washington and Oregon. I do think it's important to consider the impact of these coal trains on communities. You look at as many as 18 or more coal trains per day. They're long trains. The transportation impact is something really… At least assess [it], so that local communities can at least assess that or at least plan for it.
Would you support any state measure or state regulations on the trains?
I think what we need to do is have the law follow the environmental impact statements and first assess the impacts. But that’s the existing laws. I don’t think there's need for any changes.
One of the biggest political happening in Spokane lately, at least in state politics, is the resignation of Lisa Brown. There’s some speculation that if you were to be elected, she might find herself in a new job in the Inslee administration. Do you have any comment on if you’d be welcoming her to a positon in your cabinet?
Anybody in my cabinet is going to have to work 24 hours a day so…(laughs) so I don’t know if Lisa after working so hard is interested in that. I have huge respect for Lisa Brown. And so does the state. She really has been a hugely effective advocate for Eastern Washington and coming from Eastern Washington I really respect that cause frankly we don’t have enough of that. But Lisa in the Legislature, you can't overstate her importance or her acumen. She's a very smart, caring, capable and reasonable person. So you know, we’re getting ahead of our skis to talk about that. Anyway Lisa Brown could help the state I'd be for it. We haven’t talked about it, it has not been a subject.
Spokane Tribe wants to build a casino near the Fairchild Air Force Base. There’s been some pushback on that. Do you have any comment?
I think it’s a concern that needs to be addressed. I think we all are going to have to look very carefully on the evaluation system that is used [for basing the new KC-46A tanker] to make sure there is nothing in anyway in these decisions that would reduce our score in these categories including our access to air space. We just have to make sure that doesn’t happen. Which means we're going to have to work carefully to look at their scoring system and really understand what the Air Force is looking for. But I have to tell you, if in fact it is true that Air Force considers encroachment on that air base to be a concern, then that should be of the deepest concern to the community.
Do you think there is anyway a casino could be built without encroaching on Fairchild or does it have to be one or the other?
I don’t know. I'm just saying I think this is a very important, deeply important issue, to the economics of Spokane County and the state and I don’t believe we should do things that would knowingly jepopardize keeping those jets at Fairchild, I will say that. But the question remains how severe that threat is. And we have to get to the bottom of that.