Legislative leadership — the capacity to herd cats and give others credit for cobbling legislation — is as uncommon as it is necessary. It requires willingness to horse trade and to compromise without compromising your principles. Brains, morals, and political finesse. However rare, the three can be kneaded together.
The 38th legislative district, comprising much of Everett, Marysville and Tulalip, is ably represented by two veteran lawmakers, Reps. John McCoy and Mike Sells. Both are emblematic of U.S. Sen. Warren Magnuson’s admonition to be the workhorse, not the show horse. Both are key committee chairs, laboring on issues that impact Snohomish County and the state as a whole. And both try to supplant partisanship for the greater good.
Rep. John McCoy is a standout lawmaker who has distinguished himself as chair of the Technology, Energy, and Communications Committee. McCoy, a tech and computer nerd (obsessions ignited during his 20-year service in the Air Force), has worked to increase broadband access in remote regions of the state. Like many of McCoy’s priorities, broadband access mixes technology with social justice (Read: bridging the digital divide, especially for the rural poor.) McCoy also supports incentives to elevate renewable energy (specifically solar and biomass projects.)
Like Sells, McCoy underscores the need to prioritize education, with an emphasis on mending the achievement gap and bolstering Washington’s community and technical colleges. With the state’s changing demographics, McCoy advocates diversity training at the state’s colleges of education. The Herald editorial board recommends voters re-elect John McCoy, a farsighted and committed representative.
McCoy’s Republican opponent, Sam Wilson, comes across as a principled conservative and independent thinker. We encourage Wilson to gain additional civic experience and remain active in politics.
First elected in 2004, Mike Sells chairs the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, a critical policy body that, among other responsibilities, develops strategies to align worker training with emerging industries (one of Sells’ signal achievements was the creation of the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center at Paine Field.) While Sells vigorously birddogs labor issues, his passion and legacy continue to center on education.
For more than 30 years, Sells worked as an elementary and secondary-school teacher in the Everett School District. That experience, coupled with his leadership of the Everett Education Association and service as a trustee at Central Washington University, informs his education agenda. Sells is the father of the new WSU/Everett program in Mechanical Engineering, a gargantuan leap for higher education in Snohomish County (several claim paternity, but Sells’ DNA remains the closest match.) He is similarly proud of his effort to create a bachelor-of-science nursing program at Everett Community College through UW/Bothell.
Sells plans to double down on K-12 and higher-ed funding in the 2013 session (a huge challenge given the budget crunch.) The Herald editorial board strongly recommends Sells over his Republican opponent, Michael Casey, who is not running an active campaign.