Two incumbents are fighting to keep their seats representing parts of Snohomish, Skagit and all of Island county in the Washington State House of Representatives.
Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, and Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island, have some ground to make up from the primary election.
Scott McMullen, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, was about 553 votes ahead of Smith in the August tally. They are competing for Position 1 in the state’s 10th Legislative District.
Dave Paul, a Democrat from Oak Harbor, was 2,411 votes ahead of Hayes in the race for Position 2.
Camano and Whidbey islands, Stanwood, Mount Vernon, and the communities of Silvana and Bryant fall within the district.
McMullen credits his primary lead over Smith to the time he spent talking to people and going to events. He’s accessible to voters, he said.
Smith notes that many people have been focused on national politics.
Her strategy “is really about being able to tell my story locally, here, about the bipartisan work I’ve done,” she said, pointing to examples such as laws to protect personal data and net neutrality.
Hayes also has been talking to voters about his record in the Legislature, including rejecting new rules or programs that don’t come with the money or resources they need, he said.
His opponent, Paul, said the 10th district is more of a middle ground than people realize.
“I think this is a swing district, a moderate district, and (Hayes’) record has been far too conservative,” Paul said.
The contenders agree that public safety, education and cost of living are key issues. Their ideas diverge in some areas, though.
McMullen said he wants a new solution for funding education.
“I would like to remove the unfair property tax increase that has burdened a lot of lower-income and elderly right now, and propose a capital gains tax on corporations and high income (earners),” he said.
Paul, too, thinks the state needs to consider other ways to increase revenue for schools. He suggests eliminating business tax exemptions unless there’s a clear public benefit.
Smith, though, said the work done on funding education through state rather than local property taxes is “a huge stride forward.” Any changes should be decided after listening to educators and families, she said.
Hayes would support allowing school districts to collect more in local levies, provided that none of it goes toward basic expenses such as teacher salaries.
Voters are set to consider a gun control measure, Initiative 1639, on the upcoming ballot. Hayes said he does not support such broad restrictions. He wants better enforcement of existing laws.
“I think that every gun owner in the state or beyond has the responsibility to safely store their weapons. Absolutely,” he said. “But we already have a law … It’s called reckless endangerment.”
Smith said gun control should be focused on criminals, not law-abiding owners. She would consider reasonable restrictions, such as improvements to background checks, she said.
McMullen and Paul said they would support measures similar to those in 1639. That includes a higher age limit to purchase certain firearms, tighter background check requirements, and stiffer penalties if guns aren’t safely stored. However, McMullen noted that he is not opposed to gun ownership. He has hunting rifles.
The candidates also differ in their views on a carbon tax. Hayes and Smith do not support it, while McMullen and Paul are in favor of one, though not necessarily as laid out in Initiative 1631, also on the November ballot. They’d modify the proposal to help workers in affected industries transition to jobs in green energy, among other changes.
“I think climate change is one of the most defining issues of our time,” Paul said. “Not only do we have a moral obligation to address climate change, but our district depends on having a healthy environment for the economy.”
Smith and Hayes said Washington already is on track for reducing emissions. A state-level fee would have minimal positive impact on the global environment, Hayes said, if other states and countries continue polluting.
A carbon tax would “draw an artificial boundary around our state and put in its crosshairs family-wage jobs,” Smith said.
She aims to continue her work on solar incentives and solar panel recycling, as well as supporting development of new technologies.
When it comes to public safety, the candidates agree that mental and behavioral health is a focal point.
Smith and Hayes said the state needs to invest in resources such as local treatment centers. There should be a well-mapped mental health “safety net” that spans the entire state, so the Legislature can work to fill gaps, Smith said.
Hayes would support programs similar to the embedded social workers who partner with law enforcement in Snohomish County.
If elected, McMullen wants to direct more state resources toward training and equipment for first responders.
Paul has heard many concerns around public safety, mental health and drug addiction, he said. He wants to focus on programs that treat addiction rather than criminalizing it.
Paul reported $160,511 raised for his campaign, according to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission. McMullen reported $72,420. Both totals include sizable contributions from the House Democratic Campaign Committee.
Hayes reported $157,116 in his campaign fund, and Smith reported $128,741. Among the contributions are donations from the Republican parties in Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties.
Voters must mail ballots or bring them to a drop box by Nov. 6. Boxes close at 8 p.m. Election Day.
Representative, Position 1, 10th district
Residence: Mount Vernon
Elected Experience: Mount Vernon City Council (8 years)
Elected Experience: State representative (10 years)
Representative, Position 2, 10th district
Residence: Camano Island
Elected Experience: State representative (6 years)
Residence: Oak Harbor
Elected Experience: None. Works as a vice president at Skagit Valley College.