Appointee faces a young opponent in 21st District race

It’s not often that a 27-year-old candidate for public office can claim more experience than his opponent, but that’s the case in one race for state Legislature this year.

State Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, is 27. He served two years on the Mukilteo City Council until he was appointed to a vacancy in the Legislature last January.

His opponent, Republican Andrew Funk of Mountlake Terrace, turned 19 in August. He’s worked on some campaigns but never before run for public office.

He said he’s running because each of the three elected officeholders in the 21st District, all Democrats, ran unopposed in 2006 and he wants to provide an alternative.

“I believe in small, limited government, fiscal accountability in government, individual liberties and the free enterprise system,” he said.

Funk is a full-time student, attending Central Washington University through its branch at Edmonds Community College, majoring in accounting and business administration. He received an Associate of Arts degree in those subjects from EdCC in April after graduating in 2007 from Edmonds-Woodway High School. He took college classes under the Running Start program while he was still in high school.

Liias hit the ground running on the Mukilteo City Council after he was elected in 2005. Among his projects was a successful push to have biodiesel distribution legalized in the city. A biodiesel dealer had been forced to stop selling the alternative fuel at the Mukilteo farmers market after a conflict with the law was discovered.

Liias was appointed to fill the vacancy created when former Rep. Brian Sullivan, who previously had served as Mukilteo mayor, was elected to the Snohomish County Council.

Liias passed three bills in his first year in the Legislature. One set up a $10 million emergency fund for local housing authorities to buy mobile-home parks and apartments in danger of being redeveloped or converted into condominiums. The law also would allow purchase of vacant property for construction of new homes.

Another bill allows teachers aides and other paraeducators access to the same professional development training as regular teachers. The third bill Liias got passed set up a Web site for people to use as a reference on consumer protection.

Liias said if he’s re-elected he plans to continue to focus on “kitchen-table” issues: jobs, aerospace, schools and health care. Both Liias and Funk said they’d push for progress on long-planned new ferry docks in Mukilteo and Edmonds, projects that have been stymied by funding shortages.

Regarding the projected $3.2 billion budget deficit, Liias applauded Gov. Chris Gregoire’s freeze on spending and travel. He said education, health care for children, economic measures and public safety should not be cut and that legislators and the governor should work together to prioritize the rest.

“We fund what we can, and when we run out of money, those are the things we have to leave behind,” he said.

Funk said he would use a report by the state auditor, which identified $300 million in unnecessary spending over five years, as a guide for where to cut.

Other important issues for Funk are education, transportation and property tax relief. He proposes changing the WASL, the state assessment test given in local schools. He wants it to be administered over a shorter period of time in the fall so it can be used as a tool for the same school year.

On transportation, he proposes short-term fixes such as traffic signal synchronization, already done in many cities, along with improving freeway merging spots. Funk also supports Tim Eyman’s I-960, which would open carpool lanes up to all traffic in nonpeak hours.

Longer-term, he’d like to see mass transit expanded, using existing funds and no new taxes. Money might have to be taken away from smaller projects, such as widening side streets, he said.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or

Marko Liias

Age: 27

Hometown: Mukilteo

Occupation: State representative; part-time office assistant at Everett radiology company

Party: Democratic

Education: Graduated from Kamiak High School; attended Georgetown University; pursuing master’s degree at the University of Washington

Related experience: One year as state representative; two years on Mukilteo City Council

Andrew Funk

Age: 19

Hometown: Mountlake Terrace

Occupation: Student

Party: Republican

Education: Graduated from Edmonds-Woodway High School; Associate of Arts in Accounting and Business Administration from Edmonds Community College; pursuing bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University through its branch at Edmonds Community College

Related experience: Worked on several campaigns of Republican candidates

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