Washington’s 39th Legislative District is a rich canvas of movie-set-style towns, alpine mountains and dairy farms. The only price for living in Valhalla east of I-5 is weathering an economic climate that often matches the neighboring Cascade glaciers. Residents are fiercely independent, mostly conservative, and near-universal adherents of Thoreau’s dictum, “That government is best which governs least.”
Rep. Kirk Pearson is an ideal expression of the 39th district’s political sensibilities. He is also the consummate public servant, with a well-earned reputation for constituent services (legislative aide Cameron Bailey is the former mayor of Snohomish.) As the ranking minority member of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee, Pearson has worked tirelessly to advance legislation that targets sex offenders, including his 2005 juvenile-sex offender bill. He played a leadership role on the House Select Committee on Hood Canal and also birddogs the Monroe Correctional Complex, securing additional resources after the tragic murder of corrections officer Jamie Biendl.
Pearson is running for the state senate seat of fellow Republican Sen. Val Stevens, who is retiring. Pearson’s thoughtful opponent, Scott Olson, a former Sultan city councilmember, hopes to give voters a choice. Olson, who is significantly more liberal than his Republican counterpart, has a refreshingly amicable relationship with Pearson.
Two inspired candidates are seeking to replace Pearson in the House, Democrat Eleanor Walters and Republican Elizabeth Scott. Walters, an attorney who has worked as a contracts’ administrator for Starbucks, underlines the importance of safety upgrades for U.S. 2 and Highway 9. A mainstream Democrat who understands the needs of small business, Walters would be the perfect fit in a less-conservative district. Scott, a consultant who worked overseas as an English as a Second Language teacher, is focused on enhancing the business climate by ferreting out government waste, reforming the B&O tax and reducing other taxes. In a close call, the Herald Editorial Board leans to Scott as a more comfortable match with the 39th.
Rep. Dan Kristiansen is a conscientious conservative whose achievements sometimes transcend party labels. His 2004 Medicare Supplemental Insurance discount bill was embraced by the AARP. He also championed tuition waivers for veterans and their dependants and has attempted (albeit not successfully) to land more funding for U.S. 2 as a member of the House Transportation Committee.
Kristiansen faces a spirited challenger in Democrat Linda Wright, a Marysville school bus driver who has owned several small businesses and is passionate about breathing life into a progressive jobs-and-education agenda. Wright’s working-class ethic and experience as a citizen-lobbyist in Olympia are big pluses. We encourage her to remain politically active irrespective of the outcome in November.
Serving in the Legislature requires discipline, time and a commitment to the greater good. Voters living in Valhalla east of I-5 are fortunate to have six well-qualified legislative candidates.
The Herald Editorial Board recommends Kirk Pearson, Elizabeth Scott, and Dan Kristiansen.