EVERETT — In the 10th Legislative District’s race for House Position 1, five candidates — four Democrats and a Republican — are vying to replace Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, who served 12 years before deciding not to seek reelection.
Angie Homola of Oak Harbor, Ivan Lewis of Coupeville, Scott McMullen of Mount Vernon and Suzanne Woodard of Clinton each sport a “D” next to their name. Greg Gilday of Camano Island is the lone Republican in the race.
The top two finishers in the Aug. 4 primary, regardless of party, will advance to the general election, which will decide who serves the two-year term for House.
The 10th Legislative District encompasses all of Whidbey Island and Camano Island as well as parts of south Skagit and north Snohomish counties, including the cities of Mount Vernon, La Conner and Stanwood.
Homola, 60, is a former Island County commissioner.
“I feel I can offer a wealth of experience, accountability and compassion to represent effectively the remarkable people and beautiful places in our district,” she said.
Homola said she would look to root out inefficient government spending and would engage the electorate to make changes to the state tax structure that she said unfairly taxes the poor.
She supports phased reopening, as necessary, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and favors getting students back in schools this fall for their benefit, but she said if the virus gets bad again, schools would be forced to close.
Homola said that providing subsidized housing or housing assistance to people experiencing homelessness would in the long term save money on law enforcement intervention.
“Having a place to lay your head down and a place to call home is statistically proven to be the foundation from which all other functions of life are connected,” Homola said.
Gilday, 42, said the state has a lot of problems, and he thinks he can be a part of the solution.
Washington, he said, doesn’t have an income problem, it has a spending problem. Raising taxes isn’t the answer to any coronavirus-related budget issues. Instead, he favors rolling back the ever-expanding budget to the size of past years to make up for any shortfall.
“Now is not the time to start raising taxes, because it’s going to stunt the resurgence in the economy, it is going to incentivize business to locate elsewhere,” he said.
Gilday said Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased approach to reopening has been too arbitrary and that the mask mandate was a show of force, not care. Education is the paramount duty of the state, according to Gilday, so the focus needs to be getting kids back in schools this fall.
Gilday said his door would always be open to constituents, whether they voted for him or not.
“I am a conservative, but I am a pragmatic conservative,” he said. “I like to have conversations across the aisle.”
Lewis, 31, said he believes Washington can provide children with a better future.
“I am running with the goal to be a champion for everyday working class folks,” he said.
Broad infrastructure and project investments that Lewis dubbed “a Washington New, New Deal approach” is the solution he favors for jump-starting the economy. In the short term, he supports a capital gains tax, a wealth tax and possibly a CEO tax, but he said ultimately we will need to reevaluate the entire tax code.
“We are going to have to turn to more sustainable and more progressive tax revenues,” Lewis said.
He advocates for housing to be considered a human right and that our state must take a housing-first approach. This means embracing multifamily and multi-use zoning, and robust investment in the state’s Housing Trust Fund.
“At times like this, we tend to turn to what we know and turn to a traditional, status quo comfort zone,” Lewis said. “These are our opportunities to take bold and out-of-the-box approaches to really building a better future.”
After serving two-terms on the Mount Vernon City Council, McMullen, 57, said he wants to put his experience to work at the state level, tackling issues like public safety and health, education, health care and family-wage jobs.
As a firefighter and EMT said he knows firsthand what it takes to protect frontline workers. He supports the mask mandate and phased reopening instituted by Gov. Inslee as the best approach to keeping everyone safe. He favors opening schools in the fall, but not until it can be done safely.
Cuts will be coming to Olympia, McMullen said, but this current economic situation also requires investment.
“I would prioritize funding for projects based on the most immediate economic return, so we can get people back to work and defer long-term projects as needed,” he said.
At the state level, he would increase funding for mental health, substance abuse treatment and diversionary programs, while also boosting the stock of affordable housing to combat homelessness.
Woodard, 62, is a registered nurse. She is bidding for Olympia after feeling that legislators were disengaged from their constituents.
“I recognized right way, not only do they have a disconnect from working families and what their struggles were, there was nobody that had any medical background at all,” she said. “I decided it was time to step up to the plate.”
She said the pandemic needs to be addressed like a public health war, by the community banding together and taking necessary precautions, including wearing a mask, social distancing and not returning to schools until it is safe.
“This enemy is here, we can’t see them, but they are killing us,” Woodard said.
She said that unlike the Great Recession, the current economic situation is driven by a health care crisis and has many variables. Recovery will require taking care of the public health emergency.
“I will not stop talking about health care until it is not a problem any longer, until we have solved the problem,” she said. “Until we get to a place where everyone has health care, it is going to be a top priority for me.”
What’s at stake?
A two-year term in the House representing Position 1 in the 10th Legislative District. The 10th Legislative District encompasses all of Whidbey Island and Camano Island, as well as parts of south Skagit and north Snohomish counties, including the cities of Mount Vernon, La Conner and Stanwood.
HOUSE, POSITION 1
Residence: Oak Harbor
Experience: Former Island County Commissioner; Island County Democrats committee member for the Washington State Democratic Party, 2016-2018; Washington State Democratic Party — Environment and Climate Caucus, executive board resolutions chair, 2016-present.
Residence: Camano Island
Experience: Former Stanwood Camano Rotary Club board member; formerly a Stanwood Camano Food Bank board member; formerly a Safe Harbor Free Clinic board member; led a group of over 1,000 volunteers to build the Rotary Adventure Playground on Camano Island.
Experience: Former volunteer firefighter and EMT; former EMS evaluator and agency supervisor
Residence: Mount Vernon
Experience: Mount Vernon City Council, 2004-2012; former Skagit Transit Authority board member; former Skagit Council of Government member; former Transportation Improvement board member; former Skagit County Community Action Agency board member; master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force for 26 years.
Experience: Volunteered in children’s public schools; scorekeeper for Little League baseball; taught students on drugs, alcohol and smoking by bringing diseased organs into local classrooms; formerly a shop steward and contract action team member for UFCW21