The Tacoma Sun


Laurie Jinkins Takes a Stand on the Issues in the Tacoma Sun


Below are the questions and responses sent to Laurie Jinkins candidate for Washington State Legislature District #27.

The questions being asked to Washington State Legislative candidates this year from the Tacoma Sun are very specific and address such issues as the best method rebuilding Tacoma Streetcars, digital billboards, pollution in Tacoma and addressing the Felon Dumping Ground Issue. 

Tacoma Sun Candidate Questionnaire Candidate: Laurie Jinkins Position: Washington State Legislature District #27

1) Education and Experience

Question: What education and experience do you have to qualify to be a member of the Washington State Legislature? What books have you read that you believe that would give you insights as to how to be an effective legislator?


I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees  in Business from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later a Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law (then the University of Puget Sound School of Law). I also completed executive studies at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.  I started my career litigating child abuse and neglect cases for the state Attorney General’s Office. I then shifted my career toward public health, eventually serving as an assistant secretary of health at the state Department of Health before taking the position of deputy director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, where I continues to serve.  I’ve spent 25 years serving the community on numerous non-profit boards and feel that work has really helped me understand the community in important ways.

Books:  RR Anderson’s, Tacomic series; A lesson before dying; Taylor Branch’s MLK biography trilogy; People Magazine subscriber for over 20 years; Profiles in Courage; Autobiography of Robert Moses, Dykes to Watch Out For, A good Rain and The Worst Hard Time both by Timothy Egan; Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl; Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich; Plato’s collected Dialogues; Blink and The tipping point both by Malcolm Gladwell, Backlash by Susan Faludi; The Way We Really Are by Stephanie Coontz; The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr; Calvin & Hobbes; King of the World by David Remnick; Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger; The Jewish Book of Why; The hour I first believed by Wally Lamb Live from New York:  An uncensored history of Saturday Night Live; The Ayatollah Begs to Differ and The Ayatollahs’ Democracy both by my brother in law Hooman Majd; Never Work for a Jerk; A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson; Soul of a Citizen by Paul Rogat Loeb; Ann Rule murder mysteries; Everything bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson; Boomerang:  Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis; Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer; Wild:  From Lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl  Strayed; Inside National Health Reform by John E McDonough; Malcolm X:  A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable; and Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle.
2) Growth management:

Question: Over the last 30 years, Pierce County has been known for suburban sprawl which has caused the loss of farmland, pollution, traffic congestion and disinvestment in Tacoma. During the last 10 years, Tacoma has grown less than 5000 residents while Spokane grew by 13,000 and Pierce County grew by 95,000. If you are elected, would you work to add more density to the City of Tacoma? How would your plan, if any, be different from what is in place now?


I tend to be a data driven person.  I think that the data speaks for itself, but must be combined with evidence that urban density can work successfully with affordability. In order to increase growth in Tacoma, mixed use development and integration of low income housing throughout a community are imperative. Additionally, we live in a capitalist society.  The only way to increase density, and preserve open space and farmland is if those who own it can make more money by keeping it as farmland than they can by selling it for development.
3) Pierce County Felon “Dumping Ground” Issues

Question: Despite the recent laws passed in the Legislature, Tacoma and Pierce County have a disproportionate number of released felons placed by the Department of Corrections as described in the Tacoma City Club report: 30 Years of DOC in Pierce County, Was It worth It? Have you read this report? What specific steps would you take, if any, to reduce the number of felons being place in Tacoma and Pierce County? Does the Department of Corrections need more oversight as to where they place and/or subsidize felons to live?


The “fair share” legislation passed by the legislature a number of years ago is both working and not working at the same time.  It has assured that released offenders return to their “home” county, but, the legislation doesn’t require placement below the county level.  This means that a released offender who identifies Pierce County as their “home” community can locate anywhere within Pierce County.  Locally, this results in some of our neighborhoods having a much higher population of released offenders than is ideal.  My legislative colleagues and I pay a great deal of attention to DOC implementation of this legislation because it was the Pierce County Delegation that spearheaded it.  We need to continue to work with local communities and DOC to assure that particular neighborhoods don’t become dumping grounds for released offenders.  Data does tell us that providing released felons who would otherwise be homeless with housing vouchers for a limited period of time actually decreases recidivism.  However, more oversight about where this subsidized housing is located may be helpful.  Frankly, one of the most important things we can do is make sure that both our incarceration and release policies are based on what research tells us works.
4) Rebuilding Tacoma

Question: Despite the progress made, Tacoma still has a large number of vacant lots, and empty and blighted buildings relative to other west coast cities. In fact at least two new surface level parking lots have been created downtown in the last couple of years (the Sauro site and the site where the Luzon building was). What role can you and the Washington State Legislature take, if you are elected, to support the rebuilding of downtown Tacoma and Tacoma’s mixed use centers?


While serving on the Capitol Budget and Transportation committees, I was a co-sponsor of the 2012 Jobs Now Act. This investment into our state’s infrastructure will create new schools, affordable housing, and crucial investments in transportation, as well as over 18,000 jobs in our state. Here in the 27th district, the Jobs Act will build an allied health building at TCC, advance the cleanup of Ruston Way & Commencement Bay, help renovate of the Broadway Center & Foss Seaport, and expand our low-income housing resources. When re-elected, I will continue to work to use the capitol budget to fund improvement to infrastructure and much needed jobs.

5) Restoring Tacoma’s Streetcars

Question: Many Tacomans support restoring Tacoma’s streetcar system. The latest Sound Transit measure passed by voters sets aside money for LINK extension in Tacoma. Gas prices are now near record levels. Do you support restoring the streetcar network in Tacoma? What steps on the legislative level, would be needed to be taken to make this happen?


I would love to see a vibrant, expansive public transit system throughout Tacoma and the greater Puget Sound, but even with the funds from the last Sound Transit measure it is still incredibly difficult to fund large projects like the expansion of Tacoma’s streetcar system.

6) Pollution Issues in Tacoma

Question: The City of Tacoma is currently failing the air quality criteria set by the State of Washington. If elected, what specific measures would you take, if any, to reduce pollution in the city limits of Tacoma?


I was the prime sponsor of SHB 2326, which was signed by the Governor this past legislative session.  Pierce County is the only Washington jurisdiction out of compliance with federal clean air standards due to particulate matter in our air.  As a result, our residents suffer more health consequences and businesses wishing to locate in Pierce County must meet more stringent air quality standards.  This results in severely negative economic development consequences for our community.  A majority of this problem is caused by the use of wood burning stoves.  I was able to work with public health, municipal governments, business, community advocates and environmentalists to craft a bill that will help bring us into clean air attainment, resulting in a healthier community.

7) Crime Reduction Proposal by City Manager Eric Anderson
Question: A few years ago, former City Manager Eric Anderson set a goal to reduce crime in Tacoma by 50 percent in 14 months. Unfortunately, the goal was not reached. What can be done in your opinion to reduce crime in Tacoma?


I believe that there are several steps necessary to reduce crime in Tacoma.   First and foremost, we must strengthen the economy, helping to create jobs, and providing food, shelter, and other essential services to those in need.  Second, there are a number of gang and other proven prevention activities that we should continue to fund and expand.  An investment in proven prevention interventions is nearly always a cheaper, more long term fix than investing in incarceration.  Finally, we need continue investments in evidence based policing, so that we are using the proven interventions our law enforcement personnel need to respond to crime quickly and efficiently.

Without additional revenue sources we’ll be hard pressed to maintain current services,  let alone increase services, and that is why I advocate for revenue reform. I believe that we need a tax system that is fair, adequate and stable. Washington State’s current tax base relies too heavily on regressive, unreliable taxes, and I am a leader in promoting systemic reform. It will take committed legislators and citizens some time to replace our regressive system with a progressive tax system, however, I am committed to making this happen.
VIII) Tacoma’s Billboard Ordinances

Question: Tacoma’s Central Neighborhood Council has posted dozens of articles on the electronic billboard issue located at: What percentage of these articles do you estimate that you have read?


0%, but thanks for the link.  I’ll try to read some of these over the interim.

9) Billboards Issue

As you know, the Tacoma City Council has banned digital billboard. However, there have been attempts in the Washington State Legislature to pre-empt cities, as other states have done, and place more billboards, including digital billboards throughout the state.

What is your position on the issue?


I oppose efforts for the state legislature to pre-empt cities’ efforts to restrict billboard use.


For more information, see Laurie Jinkins website.

published July 27th, 2012

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