Politics is more than bombast, finger pointing, and I-love-me-and-you-should-too mailers. It’s the art of the possible. The means to the possible usually revolve around a measure of humility (read: crossing the political aisle), a willingness to throw elbows, and a sober appreciation of human nature. The mission, often obscured by a fog of recrimination and applause lines, is still to serve the best, long-term interests of a diverse, often polarized citizenry.
The 44th legislative district, a puzzle piece of Snohomish, Lake Stevens, Mill Creek, and points in between, is superbly represented by Reps. Hans Dunshee, a Democrat, and Mike Hope, a Republican. The Herald Editorial Board recommends that voters re-elect both candidates for another term.
Dunshee, who has served in the state house for nearly two decades, is sui generis, a lawmaker with the legislative finesse to match his formidable presence. (Imagine a kinder, bearish Lyndon Johnson.) His service as chair of the Capital Budget Committee continues to benefit the people of the 44th district and Snohomish County more broadly. The salient example of this greater-good, non-parochial mindset is Dunshee’s emphasis on bolstering higher education and working to build a WSU/Everett — a vital campus that falls outside the lines of his district.
Dunshee is an unabashed Keynesian who clear-headedly talks about the need for new revenue to fulfill the state’s obligation to K-12 and higher education. For hidebound voters, Dunshee’s we-gotta-pay message is as refreshing as it is repellent. Political skeptics demand — and receive in return — a workhorse legislator who listens, who is grounded in the minutia of government, and who has the smarts to make deals and squeeze blood from the budget rock.
Dunshee’s opponent, Mark Harmsworth*, is a compromise-oriented conservative and civically active member of the Mill Creek city council. The Editorial Board hopes that, if unsuccessful, Harmsworth continues his work in public service.
Mike Hope has distinguished himself as a get-it-done legislator who is willing to nudge and break with a sometimes-recalcitrant Republican caucus. A Seattle police officer and former small business owner, Hope is growing in the Legislature, embracing that art-of-the-possible MO. This includes teaming with Dunshee and others to make whole Everett/WSU (although Hope ultimately opposed the operating budget.) Hope’s signature achievement, the Lakewood Police Memorial Act, was a profile in bipartisan leadership.
Hope has a comprehensive knowledge of the district’s infrastructure needs, a grounding that will inform a transportation package already in the works. Hope also opposes I-1185, Tim Eyman’s latest effort to ensure a two-thirds’ rule for new revenue.
Hope’s opponent, Mary McNaughton, is a thoughtful community leader and nurse, who emphasizes a pro-education, health care, and small-business agenda. This is her first run for public office, and the Editorial Board encourages McNaughton to remain actively involved in the community.