The candidates are running in the Nov. 6 election to represent the 38th Legislative District for Position 2, which covers much of Everett, Marysville and Tulalip.
For Sells, a Democrat who lives in Everett, the primary focus is on how to fund the state's education system.
"Eight years ago, I got involved because education funding was a real concern," said Sells, 67. "It's been an ongoing concern since year one. You can continue to try and work on things like this to see if you can help solve them and that's my reason to go back."
This is the first time that Casey, a Republican who lives in Tulalip, has run for office. A captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Casey, 51, moved to Snohomish County from California in 1992 for work. He entered the race to help solve the state's budget problems.
"For the first time since we've lived in Washington, I see deficits," Casey said. "It's very frustrating to me to see the same thing in regard to the budget situation happening in Washington that is happening in California."
In August, Sells, who is seeking his fifth term as a state representative, won the primary election with 60 percent of the vote to Casey's 39 percent. Casey said that he believes the state needs to reduce spending without raising taxes. He wants to save money through finding ways the government itself can cut back.
"What I would like to have happen is a hiring freeze in Olympia on state jobs for policy and regulatory positions," he said. "The courts can do a review on what's needed and what's not. It's just prudent, financial belt tightening."
A former Everett School District teacher, Sells said there isn't a clear way to fund education but he is committed to making it a priority should he retain his seat.
"The issue is we're going to do one of two or three things," he said. "You either raise revenue, which will probably end up in a vote of the people or you cut something else and transfer the revenue over into it, which is extremely difficult."
The candidates feel differently about charter schools. Casey supports Initiative 1240, which would establish public charter schools in the state.
"I think there are too many restrictions on the flavor of charter schools that is being put forward in I-1240," he said. "I think there should be testing of students and certification of teachers, but the schools should be free to lay out the curriculum as they see fit."
Sells is against the idea.
"It's just transferring money form one place to another," he said. "It doesn't make a lot of sense and it doesn't help anything along. I think it's kind of a waste of time and energy."
Casey added that he would be sensitive to the needs of local businesses if elected and would take a hard look at how business-and-occupation tax changes in recent years have affected their ability to succeed. He also believes the 28 years he's served in the U.S. Navy Reserve gives him a unique perspective.
"If there are any issues that deal with Everett Naval Station, I speak the language," he said. "It's a wonderful resource in terms of more people in the area who are paying taxes."
Sells is proud of being part of bringing Washington State University classes to Everett and is eager to continue that work. He also wants to help fix transportation issues in the district. One example of a current problem is heavy freeway traffic that routinely backs up onto Fourth Street in Marysville, he said.
"I've had Washington State Department of Transportation come in and meet with the mayor and talk with him to see if there are better on and off ways and we're going to try to get funding on that," he said.
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
What's the job?
At stake is a two-year term as a state representative serving Legislative District 38, Position 2. The annual salary is $42,106. The district includes much of Everett, Marysville and Tulalip.
Experience: Supply chain and business manager. Captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve, having served for the past 28 years.
Experience: Incumbent state representative. Taught in the Everett School District from 1967 to 1991 and has served since 1976 as the secretary and treasurer of the Snohomish County Labor Council.
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