Rep. Larry Springer seeks fifth term in Kirkland's 45th District
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
June 20, 2012 · 3:51 PM
Rep. Larry Springer has been a big part of Kirkland and the Eastside. He has been a Kirkland City Council member, Kirkland mayor, longtime business owner and lived his entire life on the Eastside of Lake Washington.
But the public service he is most proud of has come during some of the most difficult economic times.
“I have a deep abiding passion for public service,” said Springer, D-Kirkland, who is seeking his fifth term as representative from the 45th District against Republican challenger Jim Thatcher. “There are very few legislators who bring the background I do.”
That background is a rare combination of business acumen and public service experience. It has given Springer a different perspective when dealing with the state’s financial issues.
“I bring a voice to my caucus that is rarely heard,” said Springer, who is Deputy Majority Leader for jobs and economic development, focusing on business outreach and coordinating the development of a job creation plan. “If I am not there that voice is not there. Given all the struggles we have had I cannot imagine not being there.”
Former Kirkland Mayor Mary-Alyce Burleigh has worked with Springer for 20 years on issues important to Kirkland and the region.
“He is a very thoughtful leader with a unique mix of public service and private business experience,” said Burleigh. “He is simply one of the most effective legislators I know.”
Springer said he was proud of the last budget that was passed and the fact that most education funding was preserved.
“We really focused on not having further cuts to K-12 and in the face of this deficit we preserved it. And we didn’t raise taxes,” said Springer, who sponsored a bill to reduce higher education administrative costs. “That bill will save $1 million a year. It is time to get rid of overburdensome regulations.”
Springer said that supporting K-12 and higher education is one of his biggest priorities.
“It is the way out of the recession,” said Springer.
Springer is hopeful the economy will begin to turn around faster and Olympia can restore many of the funds it has cut from education.
“I want to work to revive higher education,” said Springer. “We have taken 50 percent of the funds from education during the past four years. We need to put it back.”
Part of his work on economic issues has resulted in a bill that will produce between 20,000-30,000 jobs.
“It is for shovel-ready projects,” said Springer. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has ranked Washington in the top 10 in the country for job creation.”
One of the most controversial issues that Springer has been a part of is the elimination of community councils. The issue directly affects those in Houghton, who have one of only two community councils left in the state, with the other in Bellevue. But it is part of a bigger issue that Springer has been working on in the Legislature.
“I want to streamline government operations statewide,” said Springer, who will be on a task force this summer to look into the cost-cutting issue. “It will be hugely controversial. But I will get myself a Kevlar jacket, put on a helmet and go to work.”
Springer knows that some people will vote on one controversial issue like the Houghton Community Council and not take his body of work into consideration.
“It is just the nature of government,” said Springer. “You’re not going to make everyone happy.”
One area he has butted heads with supporters is in workers compensation and unemployment insurance. Springer has worked to improve the situation for both unions and business. But it has drawn opposition from his own party.
“For a Democrat to do that and face off with labor unions is rare,” said Springer.
If cutting government waste and taking on unions doesn’t sound like a typical Democrat, Springer would agree. He takes issue with his opponent’s statement that he is fairly comfortable with Springer’s representation, but that he wants to “make sure that the 45th District is represented - not a political party.”
“He assumes that you have to run because someone has a certain letter behind their name,” said Springer, who has raised nearly $92,000, according to the Public Disclosure Commission . “Isn’t that the problem in D.C.? I am a pretty moderate guy.”
Springer also points to how well Olympia has worked in general.
“It is gridlock in D.C.,” said Springer. “But go look at the votes in Olympia. The vast majority pass with like 80 percent of the vote.”
Looking forward, Springer sees a battle over public pension policy in Olympia. He thinks it will be contentious and there will be pressure to make changes.
“We just want to make sure that the changes are in the best interest of everyone because it will hit human services and higher education the hardest,” said Springer.
A former elementary school teacher, Springer owns a retail wine store in downtown Kirkland for the last 27 years with his wife Penny Sweet, a Kirkland City Council member, and their two Golden Retrievers, Beaune and Brix.
For information, visit www.larryspringer.org
Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at email@example.com or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.