Submitted by Vicki Kraft:
- Please introduce yourself for Romanian Times readers.
I’m Vicki Kraft, currently serving as State Representative, 17th Legislative District, Position 1 (Republican). I’m running for re-election this year and am in my second term, or fourth year of service in this office.
My background has been primarily in private sector business as an Account Manager working with companies including Dell, Pillsbury, and Frigidaire. I’ve also worked for small businesses. Previously, I worked for We Care America, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. I also owned my own small business as a Grantwriter helping nonprofits.
I grew up in Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising. My husband Paul, and I live in Vancouver, WA.
- Please give us some detailed information about the 17th District.
The 17th Legislative District is primarily in Central Clark County. It includes the areas of: East Vancouver, South Battle Ground, Southeast Ridgefield, Brush Prairie, and Hockinson.
The District borders are: on the west is I-205, on the north is WA Hwy 502 / Eaton Blvd., on the east is 164th Ave./162nd Ave./172nd Ave./182nd Ave. and goes south all the way to the Columbia River.
The 17th Legislative District is made up of suburban and rural areas within 70 square miles. The population is over 150,000 and the median age of residents in the District is approximately 35 years of age.
- What is your platform of approaching Washington State Budget? What are priorities?
I believe the approach to managing the WA State Budget should be similar to that of managing your household budget. You prioritize items you need, only spend money on those necessary items, and set aside an amount for savings so that you have it if / when you need it during a slower economy. If there’s additional services truly desired by a majority of the people, and you have the money for it, then that can be considered. However for too long, the majority party in WA state continues to expand government and then pays for it with more taxes. Elected officials need to be accountable to the taxpayers – it’s the taxpayers’ money that is being spent and they should be able to keep more of their own money.
My top priorities are:
- Protect our Constitutional freedoms.
- Improve accountability and fiscal responsibility in state government.
- Prioritize resources for law enforcement to protect our communities.
- Expand business opportunities and strengthen our economy.
- Reduce taxes and regulations on families and small businesses.
- Enhance student education and achievement.
- Support our Veterans.
- Work to prevent Sex Trafficking.
- What is your platform regarding people with disabilities?
- I believe students with disabilities should be able to have more personalized learning education environments which maximize their ability to truly learn. IEPs are helpful but in and of themselves are not the whole answer to help disabled students learn to their fullest potential.
- It’s fantastic that there are several local nonprofits that provide opportunities for students with disabilities to learn new skills, get jobs, and engage in meaningful ways with our community.
- There needs to be more accountability by health authorities regarding vaccination ingredients and frequency. Our country has one of the most extensive vaccination schedules for babies and children in the world. We need to be sure vaccines are truly helping, and not hurting, children.
- What is your platform for economic development reforms?
- Reduce taxes for the middle class and reduce B&O taxes for small businesses. This is especially important given the financial loss so many have experienced over the past six months. This would allow people to keep more of their money to spend on their families, in their local community, and invest in their small business as needed.
- We need to reduce regulations and administrative burdens for small business owners so it’s easier to start and grow a business here in Washington. I’ve talked with several small business owners about the increasing number of rules and regulations agencies like Labor & Industries (L&I), Department of Revenue, and Department of Ecology create which makes it much more time consuming and costly for small business owners to stay in compliance.
- We need to develop relationships in our region and nationally to attract more business to Washington state. This can be done in conjunction with our regional Economic Development Councils (EDCs), Ports, and Washington’s Tourism Initiative.
- What is your platform for children’s education?
Our public school system needs more accountability to ensure students are actually learning and achieving to their fullest potential. In talking with teachers, they’ve told me there are so many administrative requirements and classroom management issues educators face these days that it takes away from their time needed to teach the fundamental material kids need to learn – reading, writing, math, science and our nation’s true history. We should be focused on these core classes. One example of how our education system continues to distract student learning away from these important subjects was seen this year. The majority in Olympia passed legislation to expand Comprehensive Sex Education which will greatly increase the amount of graphic and online material kids are exposed to. Why are students being forced to learn this material, which is objectionable to many families’ values, when students should be spending their time in school learning the core subjects I mentioned? You have to really wonder when only 80% of Washington students graduate High School each year. Good news, by voting “Reject” on Referendum R-90 you can reject the bad bill SB 5395 passed by the legislature, undo that terrible policy, and protect our kids.
There also needs to be more transparency and access for parents who want to be more involved in their child’s learning process whether it’s sitting in during a classroom session or getting involved at the school board meeting level.
Parents deserve the right to choose what education format is best for their child – public, private or homeschool. This year I introduced legislation HB 2933 to provide an Education Scholarship Program which would allow parents the option to use the average funds per student that would normally follow their child to public school, to be used for private school or homeschooling instead. Unfortunately it did not advance but I will be introducing it this year.
- How can our publication’s readers from Washington State be in touch with your office?
During the Legislative Session you can contact me or visit me at my office in Olympia at:
436 John L. O’Brien Building
PO Box 40600; Olympia, WA 98504
When we’re out of session and I’m back in district, you can reach me at:
*The Legislative Session takes place: on even numbered years (e.g. 2020), mid-January through mid-March. Or in odd numbered years (e.g. 2021), mid-January through end of April.
- Do you have by chance a Romanian language speaker as a member of your team to be contacted in Romanian Language?
I’m thankful to have a good friend in Aura Reddington, who is Romanian and can help provide translation resources as needed although she is not on my staff. I do not have a large staff and welcome volunteer assistance in this area.