By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
A county sheriff’s officer and a state parks manager are vying for an empty seat representing the state’s 10th Legislative District.
Tom Riggs, a Democrat who is making his second run for the position, manages Camano Island State Park. Dave Hayes, a Republican and a Navy veteran, is a sergeant in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in Everett.
Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, who served five terms in the position, is giving up the House seat in order to challenge state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, in this election.
Riggs and Hayes are friends and neighbors on Camano Island. They even share a lot of ideas about what to do in Olympia. However, each believes their experience most qualifies them to serve the people of Island County, northwest Snohomish County and southwest Skagit County.
Riggs said he understands the state budget process, having worked for 20 years in the state parks system. Riggs also serves as the president of the Camano Island Chamber of Commerce.
Hayes, president of the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, has lobbied the Legislature on public safety issues for the past six years, he said.
Riggs believes his experience in the state agency has given him a frontline view of the state budget process, which he thinks should move to a four-year cycle instead of the current biennial budgets. Riggs also has been involved in crafting legislation involving public safety, serves on the state parks public safety team and has served on the agency’s revenue and efficiency task force. If elected, Riggs said he will be looking a new ways for state government to run more efficiently and with better private-public partnerships.
Riggs, in his work for the Camano Island Chamber of Commerce, has championed the plight of owners of small businesses, he said.
“We all want our members to succeed and grow, despite these tough economic times,” Riggs said. “My focus in the race is on job creation.”
The state has a high rate of new business startups, but an equally high rate of failures, he said.
“I want to bring sense to state regulations so that the playing field is level for all businesses and farms,” Riggs said. “People who made no money are filling out tax reports just like big corporations.”
Other ideas Riggs touts are the establishment of a revolving infrastructure account in which the state would pay interest to itself instead of “sending interest payments to Wall Street” and a 2 percent expenditure in public works project for renewable energy such as tidal and wind turbines and solar power.
Riggs also wants to push for the state to buy what it needs from businesses located in the state.
“Washington tax money needs to be spent on Washington products,” Riggs said. “Our businesses need to get first crack to serve our state. It’s just common sense, and that’s what this campaign is about.”
Washingtonians need to work together on what benefits the state, he said.
“I want our kids to receive the education they need to take advantage of the economic opportunities we have and to enjoy a good quality of life,” Riggs said. “I am a voice for working families, who often feel unheard. We have to lay the groundwork for their future.”
Hayes said his time coaching youth sports, his service in the Navy and his 21-year experience as a law enforcement officer point to his willingness to serve the people of the 10th Legislative District.
“Norma Smith (the district’s Position 1 representative) asked me to run because she knows about my interest in what is brewing in Olympia,” Hayes said. “I have a great relationship with Mary Margaret Haugen and Barbara Bailey, too.”
Hayes agreed with Riggs that most of what the state Legislature works on doesn’t involve partisan issues.
“It comes down to common sense and a great deal of team work between the Democrats and Republicans.
“Anybody who does not like people cannot be an effective legislator,” Hayes said. “I am a problem solver. I want to take care of people.”
If elected, Hayes said his top three concerns all would relate to economic development and job creation.
“It is critical that we prepare our students of all ages so that we have an effective work force. We need more vocational and technical education because we have huge shortages of blue collar workers,” Hayes said.
Public safety should be the first priority of any governmental jurisdiction. Along with fully funding education, Hayes said he wants to see the criminal justice system fully funded by the state.
“We need to make sure people are not at risk and that we are not releasing violent felons or keeping people in prison who should not be there,” Hayes said.
Hayes also agrees with Riggs that the state needs to make it easier to do business in Washington.
“We need to have regulations to keep people safe and to protect the environment,” Hayes said. “But we need to ensure that all of our regulations are effective and provide a road map to success for our people.”
Hayes said he would be a better fit for the legislative district.
“The 10th is a right-leaning district. I am not a hard-core conservative, but I am a fiscal conservative,” he said.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the job?
At stake is a two-year term in the state Legislature representing the northwest corner of Snohomish County, a portion of Skagit County and all of Island County. The salary is $42,106.
Residence: Camano Island
Experience: Camano Island State Park manager, president of Camano Island Chamber of Commerce. Second campaign for this office. Garnered 42 percent of the vote two years ago.
Residence: Camano Island
Experience: Snohomish County Sheriff’s officer, Navy veteran, former Marysville police officer, president of the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs.