Candidate hosts town hall, discusses climate change

Climate change, tax cuts, working families, among his concerns



Matthew Sutherland discusses how he hopes to reduce tuition costs and refinance loans for universities in Washington state in the future at Neill Public Library.

CARMEN JARAMILLO, Evergreen reporter

Matthew Sutherland, Democratic candidate for the Washington State House of Representatives, met with a small group of community members Thursday at Neill Public Library to talk about how he plans to support the 9th District’s working families.

Sutherland is a 25-year-old WSU alunmus who served in the U.S. Army before getting his bachelor’s in political science. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in global security policy and is a commissioned officer of the Washington Army National Guard.

Sutherland spoke about issues affecting Whitman county residents, including affordable and accessible health care, environmental issues, state taxes and his opponent Joe Schmick (R).

Several attendees were concerned by the rising cost of health care and access to affordable clinics in Whitman County.

Sutherland said a big part of his campaign is focused on health care, and he wants to create a “publicly-funded, privately-delivered” health care system.

“I want to make sure that we bring health care for all into Washington state, so that way you can go to any licensed practitioner and be able to get the care that you need,” he said.

On the environment, Sutherland said he wants to incentivize renewable energy in Washington, which he said will help bring infrastructure and manufacturing jobs to the 9th District.

Sutherland also said Schmick, who has represented the 9th District since 2007, is a “climate change denier.” The Daily Evergreen previously reported that Schmick said at a candidate’s forum in July that climate change was not human-caused.

“We need to send people to the legislature that believe in climate change and believe in the science that is accompanying it,” Sutherland said. “Because whether or not you believe in it doesn’t make it wrong.”

When asked about the carbon tax, Sutherland said he will only be in favor of taxes that do not unfairly affect “working families.”

He said he wants to reform the business and occupation tax because it targets small business owners with exemptions for large businesses. He said he wants to reduce exemptions and more “evenly-applied” rates.

A new tax Sutherland proposed was a 7.5 percent excise tax on capital gains, which he said would only affect 1.5 percent of families in Washington.

“Right now we have an incredibly regressive tax code that’s really targeted on working families,” he said. “I’d like to see us turn that upside-down tax code right-side up.”

In the August primary Sutherland earned about 39 percent of the vote with Schmick earning about 60 percent.

He said he thinks Schmick is not transparent with his constituents and is not representing them fairly in the legislature.

“It’s very clear, with the majority of [his] contributions from political action committees and most of my contributions coming from real people, who we’re going to represent in the legislature,” he said.