State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen was first elected to her local school board in 1972, the same year that Dan Evans won his third term as governor and gas averaged 36 cents a gallon (leaded gas mind, you.). As the state’s senior legislator and chair of the all-powerful Senate Transportation Committee, Haugen is at times headstrong, irascible, committed, unyielding, courageous, testy, and farsighted. In the insular world of Olympia politics, she is a dervish, the go-to chair, the loved-but-occasionally feared rainmaker.
Sen. Haugen’s horsepower and political influence may not be enough to sway voters in the 10th legislative district (In the August primary, she finished behind her very able challenger, Republican Rep. Barbara Bailey.) While there is no such thing as an indispensable politician — consider Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar who lost his re-election this year — Mary Margaret Haugen comes awfully close. As lawmakers and the business community hammer out a transportation package for the 2013 session, Haugen is already laboring in the salt mine, pushing back and negotiating with stakeholders.
The Herald Editorial Board recommends that voters re-elect Sen. Haugen. With Rep. Bailey, voters will get a respected, business-savvy lawmaker with a penchant for ferreting out waste and advancing a sustainable state budget. Rep. Bailey is an impressive candidate, but she does not present a compelling case to unseat a senior state senator.
Rep. Norma Smith is the Northwest’s if-only-we-could-clone-her lawmaker. A sensible, moderate Republican, Smith serves as the ranking member on the Community, Economic Development and Housing Committee and has also played a leadership role on the state’s Economic Development Commission and the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Ocean Acidification. One of Smith’s signature achievements (before she held elected office) was her work as a Congressional aide to the late U.S. Rep. Jack Metcalf, pulling together the bipartisan legislation to help veterans suffering from Gulf War illness. The Herald strongly recommends voters re-elect Smith. Smith’s Democratic opponent, Aaron Simpson, is an intelligent, young businessman who, in the coming years, is likely to have a promising political career.
In position 2 (Rep. Bailey’s seat), 10th district voters are blessed with two energetic, grounded, and thoughtful candidates, Democrat Tom Riggs and Republican Dave Hayes. Both are consummate public servants of the renew-your-faith-in-government variety. Hayes, a sergeant in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office, lives on Camano Island with his family and currently serves as president of the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs. Riggs, a Washington state park ranger and chamber president, is an articulate promoter of jobs and the environment. A labor Republican and a chamber Democrat? The Herald recommends Dave Hayes, based on his experience in Olympia elbowing for public safety. Nevertheless, whoever wins in November, 10th district residents will be the beneficiaries of an outstanding freshman representative.