EVERETT — State legislative appointees Sen. June Robinson and Rep. Emily Wicks, both D-Everett, are facing primary challenges as they look to win their seats in the 38th Legislative District for the first time through the ballot box.
Robinson, who had been a representative, was appointed to the state Senate in May by the Snohomish County Council after the abrupt retirement of Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip. Republican Bernard Moody and Democrat Kelly Fox are also vying for Robinson’s current Senate seat.
Wicks was subsequently appointed by the council to Robinson’s vacated House seat. Three candidates — Republican Bert Johnson, Libertarian Jorge Garrido and Democrat Lacey Sauvageau — are challenging Wicks for her state House seat, which is designated Position 1 on the ballot.
The top two finishers in each Aug. 4 primary race, regardless of party, will advance to the general election, which will decide who serves the two years remaining of the four-year Senate position and the two-year term for the House seat.
The 38th district’s other House seat, designated Position 2 on the ballot, is uncontested in the primary because there are only two candidates — incumbent Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, and challenger David Wiley, a Libertarian.
The 38th Legislative District includes north and central Everett, parts of Marysville and the Tulalip Reservation.
Democrat June Robinson, 61, served seven years as a state representative prior to her appointment to the state Senate. She is employed by the Snohomish Health District. She says her experience with the state budget and as a medical practitioner are needed now more than ever in the Legislature.
“I really enjoy representing the people of the 38th District, I am honored that I’ve been able to do that for seven years and hope to be able to continue to provide a voice for the people that I represent in Olympia,” the Democrat said.
Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Robinson said the best way to support the economy is to get the current public health crisis under control.
“The economy won’t and can’t rebound until people feel OK about going to work, going out and shopping, frequenting businesses,” she said.
She said the state and federal governments will have to step up to support residents with programs like continued unemployment insurance, Medicaid and food assistance.
Robinson said the widespread use of masks seems like the best chance to stem the coronavirus’ spread, and she commended Gov. Jay Inslee’s cautious, phased reopening approach. She said there is no good answer to opening schools in the fall. Her ultimate hope is for a hybrid approach — in-person and virtual learning.
“I truly believe kids need to be back in school, but sending them back when we don’t have the virus under control in the larger community is kind of a recipe for disaster,” she said.
During her time in office, Robinson said, she has worked hard to make progress on Washington’s housing crisis, including sponsoring a 2019 bill allowing communities to use state sales tax to address homelessness and affordable housing. She admitted it hasn’t been enough.
Republican Bernard Moody, 60, is a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office who has worked in corrections since 1987. After seeing one party hold the majority for the past 30 years, Moody said, he felt called to run for office.
“My desire is to go down to Olympia and allow them to know that the power we have as politicians comes from our people and we are here to serve our people, regardless of what party voted for them or what party they may be affiliated with,” he said.
If elected, he said, he would directly ask businesses what politicians can do to help. He also supports reducing regulations and opening opportunities for grants and funding for small businesses.
Moody said wearing a mask is part of assisting the community and being a law-abiding citizen, “even if it may go against my internal beliefs.”
“I think it is a process that we are going to have to go through to get where we want to be,” he said.
Safety, Moody said, is paramount for opening schools this fall. He wants to ensure parents are a part of the conversation. He said a phased approach would provide an opportunity to evaluate as things progress.
He said that despite ample funding, the current approach to combating homelessness isn’t working, and he believes cooperation between builders and government is the solution to the statewide affordable housing crisis.
Moody does not support the defunding of police and said, if elected, he would work to return to a time where people could talk about differences, as opposed to fighting over them.
“No matter how good your economy is going to be, if you have these types of racial tensions where people are burning down buildings, tearing down the very structures we’ve spent our lifetime building up, it’s all going to be for naught,” Moody said.
Kelly Fox, the other Democrat in the race, did not respond to email and phone requests for an interview.
According to the voter’s pamphlet, she is a first-time candidate with experience as the executive director of Snohomish County Emergency Medical Services. Her top concern is the future of EMS services in Snohomish County and across the state.
“I am running for office to ensure that the people who live, work and play in Snohomish County will receive quality emergency medical services, no matter where they are in the county,” Fox said in her candidate statement.
House, Position 1
Incumbent Democrat Emily Wicks, 34, owns a consulting business that works with nonprofits and local businesses. She is running her first campaign and said she wants to be a champion for the community where she grew up.
“I am running for a more equitable education system, health care for all, successful public transit and an economic recovery package that prioritizes our families, workers, local business and underserved communities,” she said.
Wicks said recovery starts with recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over and that we first must get cases down before growing the economy or reopening schools. Wicks said we can take lessons from the 2008 Great Recession and not cut critical services but instead make investments by pushing for federal funding. Long term, she is interested in revising the state’s “upside-down tax code,” which disproportionally taxes the poor, she said.
“People make our economy work,” Wicks said. “So I think we need to put more money in the hands of people that are going to go out and spend that money as we are looking at ways to invest in the economy.”
To address housing insecurity, Wicks said, the first step is getting a roof over people’s heads. She also advocates for offering rental assistance where needed and providing opportunities for home ownership. Her goal is to incentivize building in the region to create more space for people to live.
Republican Bert Johnson, 62, of Tulalip, is a small business owner who decided to run for office after being disappointed with current legislators. Johnson said he would approach government proceedings like a business and that overspending would not be tolerable.
“Fiscal accountability in our state has gone awry,” he said, citing ongoing struggles of the Employment Security Department in providing unemployment benefits, as one example.
At his own small automotive business, Johnson has felt the impact of the ongoing uncertainty amid the pandemic, but he said the safety and health of the community is paramount. He said the economy will naturally pick up as businesses reopen.
He acknowledged he’s not an expert on the subject, but he said schools must reopen because kids are losing out on fundamental education and socialization. He also supports expanding vocational education programs like those at Sno-Isle TECH in Everett to train students in different fields.
“We need to bring vocational education back into schools,” he said. “Then, when these students get out of school, they’re going to be able to step right in and be a contributor to our society with a trade.”
Johnson supports the efforts of cities like Marysville in combating the homelessness crisis. He favors “a hand-up not a handout” approach that would provide services, drug treatment and education to those who are struggling.
Libertarian Jorge Garrido, 33, of Marysville, said he has watched for too long as seats in government go uncontested to Democratic candidates.
“I believe that when the power of any party goes unchecked they push for excess, so I decided to give the people of my community who haven’t been engaged, or feel they aren’t represented, an opportunity to vote for someone who doesn’t have a ‘D’ next to their name,” he said.
Garrido, an aviation worker, said each time politicians pass a new tax bill in Olympia, the bureaucracy grows and funds are taken away from hard-pressed families. He said the state has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and he would take a systematic approach to determining which programs are being wasteful with state funds.
He also supports police reform through standardized use-of-force policies, more training, ending qualified immunity, creating independent review boards and reallocating funds.
“The line between soldier and cop is very blurred at this point,” he said. “We need to look at ways that our current policies and practices result in disparity in outcomes and police training.”
He said COVID-19 is still a threat, and not wearing a mask is selfish. But Garrido said he also supports the rights of people to opt out of wearing a mask if they choose. He said keeping schools closed does a disservice to students. He’s advocating a joint effort among parents, teachers, students and local health officials to determine precautions and open school campuses.
As a first generation Latino American, Garrido said his run for office is about more than just himself or Snohomish County.
“Despite being the fastest-growing sector of the population in the state, we don’t have the representation,” he said. “So even though I am running for District 38, I feel this is a position that effects the entire state and I feel responsible not just for representing my district but serving the interests of Latino Americans across the state.”
The other Democrat in the race, Lacey Sauvageau, declined to be included in the story.
Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.
Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to www.heraldnet.com/support.
What’s at stake?
The two years remaining for a Senate seat and Position 1’s two-year term in the House. The 38th Legislative District includes north and central Everett, parts of Marysville and the Tulalip Reservation.
House, Position 1