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Rep. Pearson talks to downtown Arlington business

From left, Roger Smith, owner of Arlington Health Foods and Milller
From left, Roger Smith, owner of Arlington Health Foods and Milller's Natural Pet Center, listens to state Rep. Kirk Pearson during a business walk on Tuesday, Aug. 17.
— image credit: Adam Rudnick

ARLINGTON — State Rep. Kirk Pearson recently got a unique question from a hospital employee in his 39th Legislative District.

The person wanted to know what types of candy being sold in the hospital gift shop was affected by the recent candy, soda and bottled water tax.

"I've gotten a lot of calls about that," said Person (R-Monroe), during a recent business walk in downtown Arlington. "There are 80 pages to read about what is taxed and what isn't. I have to admit, it was really frustrating."

Pearson had a chance to speak with a handful of business owners and Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce representatives during an informal question-and-answer session in downtown Arlington Aug. 17.

The panel was followed by a tour of a handful of businesses.

"I got a good flavor of what the concerns are here in Arlington," Pearson said after the two-hour event. "It confirms the work that we have to do (in Olympia) — no new taxes and job creation."

Pearson first met with a small group of individuals at Legion Park, and spoke about what types of legislation he would be working on for the 2011 Legislative Session.

Pearson, who is on the state Public Safety, Capital Budget and Agriculture and Natural Resources committees, said that he was frustrated by additional tax measures and spending passed during the past session, including the hike on candy and soda.

The state representative said that none of the pieces of legislation passed added any jobs, and spoke about how the private sector lost approximately 177,000 jobs in 2009.

Despite the challenges he faced during this year's special session, Pearson said that he's looking forward to next year, when he'd like to propose a measure to encourage the state to do more of its spending locally.

"It's still early and I don't have many details, but if you can, why not buy state goods and services?" he said.

The proposition was praised by Jesica Stickles, government affairs committee chair for the Arlington-Smokey Point chamber.

The chamber kicked off a "Buy Local" campaign earlier this summer to encourage local residents to purchase items from vendors in the area.

"That's something that would be highly supported in Arlington," Stickles told Pearson.

Pearson also spoke about the local banking industry, which has fallen on hard times.

He said larger banks, such as Chase and Union Bank, have a significant advantage over smaller banks because they are able offer lower rates through "fire sales" of foreclosed properties.

"It should be a concern for everybody," Pearson said. "I would hate to see a couple of banks control the whole area."

Pearson also spoke about the various initiatives being put to voters in the November general election, credit card rates and the Legislature's trouble keeping state agencies in check.

Once the hour-long discussion concluded, Pearson, Stickles and Michael Prihoda, executive director of the Arlington-Smokey Point chamber, met with three business owners — Nola Smith of The School Box, Roger Miller of Arlington Health Foods and Miller's Natural Pet Center and David Boulton of Flowers by George.

"I'd never had a chance to do that before," Miller said about meeting with a state representative. "I thought it was an opportunity most small businesses don't take advantage of. I think it's a good thing — they need to hear from everybody."

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