Ben Phelps

Public education, criminal justice reform and more are issues on Phelps’ docket | Vote 2016

Ben Phelps has always been politically minded.

Ben Phelps has always been politically minded.

While in high school, he helped canvas for then-presidential candidate John Kerry and when he attended the University of Rochester in New York, he studied political science and history, focusing on global security and political economy. The Bellevue resident has also lobbied in the other Washington for disability support and education as well as transgender rights.

And while his initial political work was for the Democratic Party, the 27-year-old has now become a member of the Libertarian Party and is running for 48th Legislative District House of Representatives, Position 2. He is challenging incumbent Joan McBride who is currently in her first term.

“I would love to be in the state House,” said Phelps, who works as a marketing manager for a financial advising company. “I feel I can do a lot of good there.”

As a Libertarian, he described his party as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. He joined the party in part due to welfare reform and how he felt something different needed to be done, and felt neither Democrats or Republicans were willing to listen.

“What we want is to be effective,” he said about Libertarians. “I think the work needs to be done.”

Since March, Phelps has been the regional director of the Libertarian Party for King and Snohomish counties. Through this position, he has worked with candidates and activists for the party and it was they who encouraged him to run for state office. He also received support from family and friends who he said have shown their faith in his leadership skills.

Phelps — who has done a lot of youth work through the faith community, including with the synagogue he grew up attending as well as summer camp programs — said if elected, there are a number of issues he is concerned about.

The first is criminal justice reform.

“We focus so much on punishment that we have no compassion,” Phelps said.

He said he would like to see people be able to learn, grow and move on but that will not happen if the system continues to treat drug addicts as criminals.

Phelps would also like to tackle affordable housing, saying the state needs to relax some of its zoning laws so developers can build more vertically for higher density affordable housing. He said if there was more supply in housing available in general, that would drive prices down.

Another point of concern for Phelps is public education, saying both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for the fines the state legislature has to pay for being found in contempt.

Phelps also addressed his opponent’s approach to dealing with the state’s public records laws.

He said the state needs to take a higher-tech approach and should transition from paper to digital files, rather than creating a commission and more bureaucratic red tape.

“In what way is that going to be cost effective?” Phelps asked.

More in News

Reporter file photo
Police investigate officer response to 911 call

The investigation comes after officers may have improperly responded to a call from Menchie’s.

King County Flood Control District approves 2019 Budget on Nov. 5. Photo courtesy of King County Flood Control District.
King County Flood Control District approves $93 million budget

The 2019 District Budget will maintain current flood protection services.

The Council recognized the AFIS program as it celebrates 30 years of assisting law enforcement throughout King County. Councilmembers, AFIS staff and King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht join AFIS regional manager, Carol Gillespie. Photo courtesy of King County.
King County Council recognizes Automated Fingerprint Information System

For three decades, AFIS has helped law enforcement solve thousands of cases.

Sarah Yount, former YES client, speaks at YES’s 50th anniversary celebration on Nov. 2. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Youth Eastside Services celebrates 50 years

YES celebrates 50 years of providing youth and family behavioral health services.

Nude suspect blocks traffic, fights officers | Police blotter

The Kirkland police blotter for Oct. 25 through Nov. 1.

Sky Metalwala has been missing for seven years. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Police plead for help in search for missing boy

Sky has been missing since Nov. 6, 2011 and turned 9 years old on Sept. 2.

Protesters chant “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” at the intersection of Northeast 124th Street and 124th Avenue Northeast Thursday evening. Kailan Manandic, staff photo
Kirkland locals rally in national protest to protect Mueller

Protesters across the nation respond to former Attorney General Jeff Session’s resignation.

From L-R: Panelist Roderic Camp from Claremont University, William Beezley from University of Arizona, Linda, and Guillermo Sheridan from UNAM-Seattle touched on the subject of U.S.-Mexico relations on Nov. 1 at Northwest University. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.
Northwest University hosts public academic conference

NU partners with National Autonomous University of Mexico to discuss U.S.-Mexico relations

Most Read