ELECTION 2016: Brendan Kolding running again for State House

West Seattleite Brendan Kolding, who challenged 34th District Position 2 State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon in 2014, says he’s running for the State House again. This time, he says he’s seeking the Position 1 seat long held by Rep. Eileen Cody. Kolding, a 33-year-old Democrat and father of three, says education is his top priority. From his announcement:

It is unacceptable that the State continues to be in violation of its Constitutional obligation to fully fund public K-12 education. The Supreme Court has made it clear that education funding is priority number one within the operating budget, and there is more than enough money to meet the additional four to five billion dollars that is needed. Once education is fully funded, then tough decisions will have to be made regarding cuts to other entities that fall within the operating budget. If the citizens of Washington are willing to accept more taxes to augment the budget, then funding can be restored to the non-education entities, but withholding resources from education until new funding sources can be identified is completely untenable.”

Kolding is a member of the Holy Rosary School Commission and says he sees private schools as complementary to public schools:

“Private schools save the taxpayers over $800 million annually. If we can make these schools more accessible to the families who are interested in enrolling their children in them, the funding and class size requirements of McCleary will be easier to attain. It’s a win-win. For that reason, I am proposing legislation that will incentivize donations that support private schools.”

Kolding is a former substitute teacher who is now a sergeant in the Seattle Police Policy Unit. He also volunteers as a youth-basketball coach. The position he’s running for will be on the August 2nd ballot.

34 Replies to "ELECTION 2016: Brendan Kolding running again for State House"

  • Neighbor January 5, 2016 (4:21 pm)

    Gee, as a tax payer I’d rather see investment and accountability in our public schools. This privatization of the foundations of democracy is anti democratic. It’s also just what the anti-Union Koch brothers want. Why would someone who is running on a Democratic ticket want something like this?

  • Parental Leaves January 5, 2016 (4:40 pm)

    Neighbor, what accountability is there in the current system? Certainly not enough from teachers and their union, nor from status quo purveyors at the administrative level.

  • clark5080 January 5, 2016 (4:44 pm)

    So how would you fully fund Education?

  • Brendan Kolding January 5, 2016 (4:52 pm)

    Thank you for your comment. The 34th District has a long tradition of excellent schools, both public and private. I am not proposing that education be completely privatized, I am simply proposing that the State recognize the relief that these schools provide to its obligation to fund public education (i.e., every student in private school is saving the taxpayers money on public school) and seek to enhance that benefit by making it easier for these schools to raise the money that they need to keep their doors open and offer tuition assistance to families who would not otherwise be able to attend. Ultimately, parents are the ones who must determine where to send their children to school.

  • Jon Wright January 5, 2016 (5:34 pm)

    I’d be curious to know what Ms. Cody allegedly hasn’t done to fund education that Mr. Kolding will somehow be able to accomplish.

  • Neighbor January 5, 2016 (6:01 pm)

    You are proposing that public tax dollars be allocated to private institutions. Private institutions that don’t have public accountability or allow public input in curriculum. If your goal is to fund private education with public funds your not getting my vote. If you are in this to make a real change in public education then stand up with the millions of parents who are pleading for this. We need a rep who doesn’t shy away from the fight for all our kids.

  • jissy January 5, 2016 (6:27 pm)

    OK, so now I’m curious to know your thoughts about Homeschooling and where we might fit in? You note “….that the State recognize the relief that these schools provide to its obligation to fund public education (i.e., every student in private school is saving the taxpayers money on public school)….” — homeschoolers do that and then some.

  • roxy January 5, 2016 (6:28 pm)

    Please answer Clark5080’s question, Mr. Kolding: how WOULD you fully fund education? Still wondering…

  • Brendan Kolding January 5, 2016 (7:25 pm)

    My plan to fully fund public education is to allocate all necessary resources prior to funding the other areas of the operational budget. There is enough money, and the Supreme Court is telling the Legislature to spend it on education, so it is time to do so. This is the real change in public education funding that people have been craving and deserve.

    Regarding homeschooling: I do not have any ideas about this. Please write me at kolding34@gmail.com if you would like to share your thoughts. I am happy to engage!

  • Nora January 5, 2016 (7:41 pm)

    Neighbor, that’s not how I read it. However, since the only way I can envision that working with the details provided (read: without any details) is as an income tax credit or deduction. Since the State currently has no income tax, how would you incentive those donation?

  • Elle January 5, 2016 (8:24 pm)

    With all respect to Mr. Kolding’s position, I’m concerned about his focus on providing more access to private institutions. I went to Catholic Schools for 13 years and was treated as a second class citizen for not having been Catholic. Providing access to private schools isn’t always clear cut, nor is it necessarily best for all. (I also worked for a Catholic parish not long ago and Church leadership was struggling with the same issue.) I think Mr. Kolding’s membership with the Holy Rosary School Commission is honorable, but is in conflict with having such a potentially powerful role in deciding the fate of public education in our state. I’m a democrat, but would have trouble voting for Mr. Kolding without some serious convincing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens!

  • Brendan Kolding January 5, 2016 (8:35 pm)

    Great question. In the interest of brevity, I did not go too granular in my press release. Here is how it would work: the State of Washington would provide a reimbursement for the first $1,000 that any individual donates to a private school or private school support organization. The reimbursement would go directly to the individual. 13 other states have similar programs that involve tax credits. Since we do not have a state income tax, direct reimbursement is the solution. Drawing from the experiences in other states, this will result in a net gain for Washington taxpayers.

    I have drafted the legislation that would codify what I have outlined above, and will be happy to share with anyone who is interested. Just write kolding34@gmail.com.

    What I can not emphasize enough is that I am proposing giving public schools all the money they need out of existing resources. Other candidates will tell you that we need to either keep the local levies (that McCleary calls unconstitutional) or approve new taxes. I am the one who is saying that we have to spend the money we have on schools first.

  • Brendan Kolding January 5, 2016 (8:43 pm)

    Elle, I am sorry to hear of your negative experiences in school. I am not proposing that anyone be required to attend private school, I am just attempting to make the option more feasible for a greater number of the families who desire it for their children. I am of the belief that parents should have options when it comes to their children’s education. I respect your position that private school is not for everyone, but restricting people from attending them or disallowing them in general is a completely different conversation.

  • Nicholas January 5, 2016 (9:28 pm)

    So, charter schools but called something different? Do you really think voters in the 34th are that stupid? How about we make our public schools so great that private schools can’t keep up? Drawing from experiences in other countries this would result in a net gain to Washington tax payers.

  • Brendan Kolding January 5, 2016 (9:46 pm)

    No, not like charter schools. Think of my plan as an enhancement of the tax deduction that people already get for donations that they make to private schools. Instead of getting about 25-30% back, they get it all back (up to $1,000.) I am all for great public schools, hence why I am saying that we need to provide them with all of the funds necessary to meet McCleary compliance.

  • JanS January 5, 2016 (11:57 pm)

    and those other obligations that would take second, third place , etc. after education…what exactly would those be, in your estimation, Mr Kolding?

  • Brendan Kolding January 6, 2016 (6:08 am)

    Once education is fully funded, all other areas of the operating budget will have to compete for the remaining resources. I am not rank-ordering our obligations to imply that they will be fully funded down the list until the money runs out. That said, other priorities of mine include public safety, transportation, mental health care/crisis intervention and the environment.

    Why is education unique in this respect? The State Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature to provide full funding and not force the school districts to rely on local levies. The Legislature has not done this, and the members are currently bring held in contempt of court. The Legislature is also being fined $100,000 a day. Their excuse is that they need to raise taxes, but what I am saying is that they need to use the money that is already there to meet their Constitutional obligation (“paramount duty”.) If new taxes are needed to restore funding to other areas of the operating budget, then that can be worked out if it is what Washington citizens want. However, this practice of insisting that there just isn’t enough money is simply untenable. The same goes for telling Washingtonians that they will have to accept new taxes if they don’t want their children’s teachers to have to strike. This is a situation that requires strong leadership, which is what I am willing to provide.

  • Nick January 6, 2016 (7:53 am)

    Last person I’m voting for is a police officer how about real reform of our justice system. Good luck getting an insider to work on justice reform I hope there is more than one candidate for this position

  • Mickymse January 6, 2016 (9:55 am)

    As a self-proclaimed Democrat seeking a partisan position in our State Legislature, would you like to answer the following for us:
    –Are you currently a member of the 34th District Democrats?
    –If so, how long have you been a member?
    –What have you done to support the Party and its positions in the 34th LD?
    –And since you’ve chosen to run — again — against a sitting Democrat, how is Rep. Cody a) failing to perform as our representative, and b) failing to uphold the platform and values of the Democratic Party members in the 34th LD?

  • wscommuter January 6, 2016 (10:46 am)

    Mr. Kolding … first, I applaud any citizen who is willing to engage the political process and put themselves out there for the trials and tribulations that come with it. More power to you.
    However, your concept of “fund schools first, and then fund the rest of state obligations within the existing budget” is a non-starter. I fully understand (and actually agree with) the McCleary decision. But to fail to utter the words “taxes must be increased” is to either avoid the truth or be disingenuous. Current state revenues cannot fund education per the McCleary decision AND maintain state spending on other, equally vital, programs, be it transportation/infrastructure spending, prisons, ecology, DSHS, etc. The math doesn’t remotely begin to add up.
    So I would suggest, with all due respect, that you address reality. The draconian cuts that would be required to other budget items if we fund McCleary under the current revenue collected by the state would make Kansas seem like utopia.
    To be clear … I’m a D. I support funding education well. But we need to pay for all of it. We have to undo the damage done by Eyman’s initiatives and we have to be adults about paying what it really costs to do these things. Taxes should be raised. The failure to be honest about that truth is where I have a problem.

  • Brendan Kolding January 6, 2016 (11:04 am)


    Yes, I have been a dues-paying member since last year. I support the party by voting for fellow Democrats.

    Rep. Cody, as are the rest of our current legislators, has been held in contempt of court for failing to fully fund education. As such, a fine 0f $100,000 is compounding daily. This is not consistent with the values of the 34th District Democrats, nor of anybody else who resides in West Seattle, White Center, Burien, Vashon Island or Maury Island. Beyond that, her term will be up at the end of the year and I am well within my bounds to throw my hat in the ring.

  • Brendan Kolding January 6, 2016 (11:17 am)


    You make some excellent points. My stance is that the State Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature to fully fund education, so it must be done. Any necessary tax increases need to be for the funding of other areas of the operational budget. I am not being dishonest about the truth, I am just saying that we need to follow the law (i.e, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of our State Constitution) and then see if the will of the people is to accomodate additional taxes.

    Here is another way to look at the matter: During the Seattle teacher’s strike, the general sentiment from our elected leaders was that taxes needed to be raised in order to prevent future strikes. The feedback that I have gotten from the community is that they feel that they are being held hostage: either pay more in taxes or you’ll have to keep dealing with this. However, my argument is that the State is legally obligated to use the resources that currently exist to fund the schools. Washingtonians do not deserve to be subjected to scare tactics.

    Judging by your tagline, I would imagine that transportation is important to you. (I commute from West Seattle to downtown, so it is also important to me.) Please be assured that education funding does not threaten transportation funding. Education comes out of the operating budget and transportation comes out of the transportation budget. Theses are two completely different pots of money that are fed from different sources.

  • Molly January 6, 2016 (12:13 pm)

    Kolding’s perspective is a breath of fresh air. As a taxpayer, I am glad to have someone running who is committed to making efficient use of existing revenue instead of insisting on creating new taxes at a time when revenue is already high.

  • Brendan Kolding January 6, 2016 (12:29 pm)

    Thank you, Molly!

  • publicschoolsupporter January 6, 2016 (3:01 pm)

    Why would I want the state to reimburse people for their decision to send kids to private and religious schools?

    That just takes money from the overall budget.

  • Brendan Kolding January 6, 2016 (3:19 pm)

    If those kids were in public school, the State would spend more money on them. This is a case where we can save money by spending money.

  • Jon Wright January 6, 2016 (3:51 pm)

    Brendan Kolding, I have to agree with publicschoolsupporter about this $1,000 rebate because I am not convinced that $1,000 is going to drive enough additional students from public to private school to offset the fact that all existing private school students’ families will get what amounts to a $1,000 windfall. So I believe this will be a net-negative to the budget. I also have a hunch* that the family demographics of private school students tend to skew more affluent. If that is the case, this will also give public money back to a group of people who, in general, need it less than others.
    * completely unsubstantiated by any hard data

  • publicschoolsupporter January 6, 2016 (4:08 pm)

    I’d rather they put their kids and their efforts into the public system. Might cost the state more but to have more engaged parents in the process could make a huge difference.

    Anyway, I really doubt $1000 is going to be the difference maker for many parents. People who can afford Westside are going to pay for it regardless, as will people who want their children to have a religious education.

    BTW, in principle I object to funding someone else’s choice to put their kids in religious school.

    Sorry but that proposal would be a big deal-breaker for me.

  • Brendan Kolding January 6, 2016 (5:31 pm)

    Thanks to both of you for your input. The $1,000 figure is based on what they are doing in Arizona. Ultimately, my legislation will have to go through the House and Senate before it becomes law, and the final amount of reimbursement is thus TBD.

    Achieving McCleary compliance will take creative, progressive thinking. That’s is why I am running.

  • Marlene Allbright January 6, 2016 (5:50 pm)

    Hmmm….we can save money by spending money…..sounds attractive, but I’m not buying it. Private schools are called private schools for a reason. NO public money should go to private schools. If you want public money to go your kids’ school, send your kids to public school. The reason the democratic legislators are being held in contempt, is because their Republican counterparts refused to fully fund McCleary, with the exception of Tim Sheldon, and a couple of other democrats in name only.

  • Ivan January 6, 2016 (6:41 pm)

    Dear Brendan:

    This is nothing more than the same voucher platform you ran on last time. Didn’t work then. Won’t work now.

  • Brendan Kolding January 6, 2016 (6:49 pm)

    Marlene, I assume that you are aware that donations to private schools are already deductible on your federal tax returns. What I am proposing is basically just an enhanced version of that.

    I would like to remind all that I am primarily proposing that we use existing resources to fully fund public schools. Folks are fixating on my private school idea, but please realize that what I am proposing for public schools is even more generous. I am the candidate that supports all schools, public and private.

    Not a single legislator put forth a proposal that came anywhere close to meeting the requirements of McCleary without raising taxes. Meanwhile, all the money they needed was on the table. The next thing you know, teachers were on the picket line and West Seattle parents were hosting bake sales to scrape together the resources they needed to prevent their children’s teachers from being reassigned. To me, that’s just unacceptable.

  • Brendan Kolding January 6, 2016 (6:52 pm)

    Ivan, I am not proposing vouchers. I never have. Vouchers are given to parents for them to redeem when paying tuition. What I am proposing is an incentive to donations. Constitutionally, there is a huge difference.

  • Brendan Kolding January 8, 2016 (8:26 pm)

    Many thanks to all who have participated in this robust conversation! I look forward to continuing to discuss my platform with the good people of the 34th District.

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