Independent Johnson challenges 6-term Sells in 38th District

Bert Johnson (left) and Mike Sells

Bert Johnson (left) and Mike Sells

EVERETT — Bert Johnson, an independent candidate, is challenging six-term Rep. Mike Sells for his seat in the Legislature’s 38th District.

Johnson has not declared any party affiliation. “I should be able to work with any party out there to resolve an issue that’s brought to the table, and to add to that, to the best interest of the majority, and that’s people not party,” Johnson said.

Sells, a Democrat, is seeking his seventh term in the State House for Position 2 in the district.

“I do try to operate in a bipartisan way,” Sells said, “but there are some really stark differences between Democrats and Republicans on some serious issues.”

Both candidates prioritize education, but they have different emphases.

Sells said that there likely will be tax increases to comply with the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision to fund basic education.

“We’re going to have to look at revenue in some way, shape or form,” Sells said.

He said a capital gains tax and closing other loopholes could bring in a “couple hundred million.”

“It probably is more politically acceptable than other forms of taxes such as income taxes,” he said.

Sells also said the Legislature likely would need to revisit the tax breaks given to Boeing.

Johnson said a priority for him would be to expand vocational and technical education.

“A lot of kids are getting out of school and there’s not really a lot of great places to go,” he said.

Johnson said that he thinks the budget shortfall could be addressed with efficiencies.

“We need to review that and see what can be managed in a more efficient manner,” he said.

Johnson also said that the pilot program on tolling on I-405, which comes to an end next September, needs to be cut back.

“Personally, I thought that program was a disaster from day one,” Johnson said.

Sells said the Legislature needs to see if tolling is bringing in enough revenue to justify the rates.

“I think it may be salvageable, the question is whether we want to or not,” he said.

When asked about whether he would support an assault weapons ban proposed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Johnson said he would want to see a proposal before supporting it.

“I want to see what’s considered an assault weapon, number one, and I have no problem keeping dangerous weapons out of dangerous people’s hands,” Johnson said.

Sells said he also would support it, depending on the details.

As of Friday, Sells has raised $76,314 in campaign contributions, most recently from political action committees affiliated with the Amalgamated Transit Union Legislative Council of Washington state, Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, the Washington Forest Protection Association and the Indian Gaming Association, among others.

Johnson has not reported any campaign contributions as of Friday.

For Position 1 in the 38th District, Rep. June Robinson, a Democrat from Everett, is running unopposed for re-election.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

38th Legislative District, Position 2

Bert Johnson

Age: 58

Residence: Tulalip

Profession: Operations management, entertainment promotion business

Party: Independent

Website: votebertjohnson.com

Mike Sells

Age: 71

Residence: Everett

Profession: Retired

Party: Democratic

Website: mikesells.net

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