Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The 45th's Rising Star: Eric Oemig

From the Executive Director: We're pleased today to showcase an exemplary progressive candidate for state legislature - Eric Oemig. We could write a lot about Eric's candidacy, having witnessed it since it began early this year, but we're actually going to let Eric tell you about himself and his campaign in this special guest post.

Washington State has a spending problem. We spend too much on overpriced band-aids, when we should be investing in real solutions.

We need new ideas, new leadership, and a different kind of politics.

I grew up in a rural midwestern American town. My mom taught public school and my father was a farmer; both were the first in their family to go to college. From them, I learned the values of hard work, education, responsibility, and leaving the world a better place than I found it. I played football, wrestled, and studied hard.

I worked my way through college, graduating with a degree in Computer Science. I came to Washington to work for Microsoft as a software engineer. Besides Microsoft, I worked as a money manager, helping small businesses, especially family farmers, figure out how to make their business profitable.

I have been active on the Eastside of King County – as a member of the Kirkland Library Board, Hopelink Executive Leadership Council, and the Eastside Gluten Intolerance Group (an organization supporting people and families with food allergies).

I also created and hosted a television program shown across King County , called "Moral Politics." The show brought people together to sensibly discuss the moral and economic impact of issues facing our community.

Eric Oemig for State Senate

My wife Mary and I married in 2005. Together we named our new son Cray after the first supercomputer. (Cray Research was another big influence in my life growing up. I named my son after a symbol of logic and reason.)

Three key places where we need smarter investment in Olympia are education, healthcare, and transportation.


Education is opportunity. It is the most important tool we can provide to our children so they can earn their own success in life, be it starting their own business or realizing their own dream. When my son was born last year, that became even clearer to me.

Education is also a crucial investment in our economy and our competitiveness. Funding for education at all levels – from pre-school to higher education to life-long job training – must be treated as an investment, one that will produce long-term rewards.

Children who have quality preschool are twice as likely to graduate from high school. And for every one dollar we invest in quality preschools, we save fourteen dollars in later social costs. Education should be our highest funding priority.

When you have a program that makes our community better and saves money, you should invest in it, right? Unless you’re my opponent, who has repeatedly voted to cut education funding.

Now he wants to take away money meant for smaller classes and for more slots in higher education, by getting rid of the Education Legacy Trust.

Health Care

Most of us don’t wait for a crisis before we see a doctor. Unfortunately, many kids do have to wait, because their families don’t have health insurance. Their first appointment is in the most expensive clinic in the world: the emergency room.

That isn’t right for those kids or for their parents or for everyone else who has to pay for it.

We must heal our health care system, starting by ensuring that every child has access to quality health care, including prenatal and neonatal care.

We must spend our health care budget smarter on preventative care, rather than waiting until people show up in the emergency room. We must make sure big businesses live up to their responsibility to provide health care for their employees.

And we must follow the lead of other states that have lowered prescription drug costs, by negotiating bulk purchase discounts and reimporting drugs from Canada .

My opponent routinely votes against better health care. He voted against budgets that added more slots for children in the state basic health plan. He voted not to reimport less expensive drugs from Canada (and then received big campaign contributions from the drug companies that benefited). It’s sickening - literally.


Traffic erodes our quality of life. Our transportation system must work for both people and businesses, including people with cars and without cars. We must eliminate the worst bottlenecks in our transportation system.

At the same time, we cannot just build our way out of congestion. Our transportation system must include smart investments in buses, light rail, carpools, and other real choices for moving around our region.

We are paying for congestion. I call it a "time tax." Ask any business owner how much he pays for his employees to sit in traffic. Or ask any of us what else we would rather do than be trapped behind the wheel. Lost wages or lost family time - we pay. Let’s spend our resources smarter and build solutions.

While we have been sitting in traffic, my opponent has been sitting in Olympia voting against investments in transportation.

He even voted against the 2005 Transportation Package, the plan that local voters overwhelmingly supported at the ballot box last year.

He keeps saying he supports transportation improvements, but he keeps voting against them. Our economy and our quality of life cannot afford such hypocrisy.

These are just three examples of where we can do better. On these and many other issues – biofuels, stem cells, environmental protection, safer communities, and more – we can invest smarter, save money, save time (time is money), and get better results.

So, how can you leverage your time and money to get the best results out of Olympia ?

You could try talking to 1,000 people about 1,000 issues. You could give $1,000 dollars to your favorite political group – that is, if you can afford it. You could call a politician 100 times about 100 different issues that he has already voted the wrong way on in the past.

Or, you can elect someone who will lead on all of the issues we care about.

Join my campaign!

I am working all day, every day to win this election, but I cannot do it alone. I have raised more money than my opponent – the political observers are truly astounded, because a new candidate is not supposed to out-raise a longtime incumbent.

But my opponent is getting big checks from big money interests (most recently, drug companies, builders, insurance companies, phone companies, HMOs, WalMart, and others), and will get more from his party.

You can help by volunteering or contributing. Visit my website, email volunteer (at) oemig (dot) com, or call (425) 968-8798 to get involved.

I hope to see you on the campaign trail. Thank you.

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