Candidates in the 38th Legislative District, from left: John McCoy, Savio Pham, Bert Johnson and June Robinson.

Candidates in the 38th Legislative District, from left: John McCoy, Savio Pham, Bert Johnson and June Robinson.

District 38 candidates focused on mental health, addiction

Neither person challenging Democratic incumbents in the House and Senate has held public office.

EVERETT — Mental health and opioid addiction are main concerns for each candidate in Legislative District 38.

The area includes Tulalip, and parts of Marysville and Everett. Ballots for the November election were mailed this week.

There are two open positions: A four-year term in the Senate and a two-year seat in the House. Both incumbents are Democrats running against people who have never held public office.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, is facing a challenge from Savio Pham, R-Everett. In the other race, Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, and Bert Johnson, I-Tulalip, are competing for Position 1.

Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, is running unopposed for Position 2. He’s held that post since 2005.

McCoy, 74, was born in Tulalip. He was in the Air Force for about 20 years. He ran for state representative and won a spot in the House in 2003.

He was appointed to the Senate in 2013, and was elected the next year. He’s now running for his second full term.

McCoy is focused on improving education and mental health resources and providing rural areas with Internet access.

He was involved with establishing Tulalip Broadband, an Internet company that launched in 2000. He was the tribes’ economic development director at that time.

“I convinced the tribes to allow us to create our own, because the big companies didn’t want to come on the reservation,” he said.

He’s worked on education bills, including one that requires schools to teach tribal culture and history. He’s starting to focus on higher education.

McCoy often hears the opinion that he’s served the area for too long and that it’s time for a change.

“I still have things to do,” he said.

He met with Gov. Jay Inslee and other local leaders last week. They talked about ways to aid those with mental illness.

“Some good ideas came out,” McCoy said. “We’ll be pursuing some of those to see if they look as good as they feel.”

His challenger is Pham, 46, of Everett.

Pham is running as an Independent Republican. Some of his values align with the Republican party — he opposes abortion and big government — but he has less conservative views on other topics.

“If any issues or votes come before me, I want to look at them carefully,” he said. “I don’t just vote on the issues because I’m aligning with Republicans.”

Pham grew up in Vietnam and moved to the United States in 1990.

He’s lived in Everett since May. He’s become familiar with the area by going to events and knocking on people’s doors throughout his campaign.

One of Pham’s main focuses is to achieve affordable living.

“I want to emphasize the word ‘living,’ not just housing,” he said.

He hopes to get to the root of opioid addiction in the region, and provide funding for services that benefit those living with mental illness.

He’d also like to see lower taxes and reduced car tab fees.

“Those little things are adding up and getting money out of people’s pockets,” he said.

Voters will also notice a House seat up for grabs on the ballot.

Robinson, 59, was appointed to the position in 2013 and was elected the next year. She’s lived in Everett for about 20 years. She works for Public Health — Seattle & King County when the legislative session is over.

She’s spent the last couple of years in Olympia reviewing state operating budgets.

“We continue to struggle with the opioid epidemic,” she said. “That’s something I’ve worked on a lot to make sure we provide funding for additional treatment and services.”

She’s also assisted in establishing a law that allows people to take up to 12 weeks off from their jobs in a family emergency. It’s expected to be put into place next year.

“I want to make sure it gets rolled out as effectively as we envisioned,” she said.

Her opponent, Johnson, 60, has spent most of his life in Snohomish County and now lives in Tulalip. He ran for Position 2 two years ago, which Sells won.

Johnson is running as an Independent.

“I think I could bring a little of both sides to the table,” he said.

Johnson owned an automotive shop near Clearview for about 20 years. Now he’s the operations manager for Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma. He usually makes the 250-mile round trip drive once a week.

It’s opened his eyes to what everyday commuters deal with. He’d like toll lanes on I-405 to go away.

Johnson also wants to see more young people enrolled in technical programs, and is concerned about education and public health. He hopes to find solutions for those who are homeless.

“We need to find the answer and help these people with the necessary tools, and make them an active part of our society again,” he said.

Election day is Nov. 6.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192;; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

What’s at stake: One four-year term in the Senate, and one two-year term in the House. Both are in District 38, which includes Tulalip, and parts of Marysville and Everett. Each salary is $48, 731 annually.


John McCoy

Party: Democrat

Age: 74

Residence: Tulalip

Experience: State senator since 2014; State representative from 2003 to 2013; former economic development director of the Tulalip Tribes; Air Force veteran; computer system designer, including a job at the White House.


Savio Pham

Party: Independent Republican

Age: 46

Residence: Everett

Experience: Doctorate in management and organization leadership from the University of Phoenix; instructor at Highline College and Ottawa University; field representative for congressional district 9.


House of Representatives, Position 1

June Robinson

Party: Democrat

Age: 59

Residence: Everett

Experience: State representative since 2013; vice chairwoman of the Appropriations committee; Health Care and Wellness committee; Agricultural and Natural Resources committee; program manager at Public Health — Seattle & King County.


Bert Johnson

Party: Independent

Age: 60

Residence: Tulalip

Experience: Small business owner; event management and sales; property management; operations manager.


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