Koster says he’ll seek a 39th District state House seat

John Koster is done thinking about running for a seat in the Legislature.

He’s doing it.

Wednesday morning the Arlington Republican with a long political resume announced he will seek a seat in the 39th Legislative District. Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe, holds the seat but is forgoing re-election to run for Congress.

A victory this fall would return Koster to Olympia, where his lawmaking career began two decades ago.

Koster said the reason he’s running now is no different than it was then.

“I want to serve. I feel like it’s a calling, a call to duty,” he said.

The former dairy farmer said the issues he’ll tackle aren’t much different today, either: prioritize spending, erase burdensome regulations and restore accountability to state government.

While his motivation and agenda are unchanged, the 64-year-old social and fiscal conservative said he’s not the same guy that won a seat in the state House of Representatives in 1994.

With six years in Olympia and 12 years as a Snohomish County Councilman he’s gained a clearer understanding of how decisions made in the state Capitol affect those entrusted with steering local governments.

“With age comes a little experience, and a little wisdom, and the ability to navigate issues,” he said. “And as someone that has conservative credentials and can get along with people on both sides, I think I can help bring people together.”

In a press release issued Wednesday, he described government as “too big and too intrusive.”

“Olympia politicians have gone to taxpayers to bail out their poor decisions and we’re rapidly destroying the free enterprise system that made America the most productive economy in the world,” he wrote in the release.

Koster’s announcement didn’t surprise Democrats.

“We’ve known for some time now and with great certainty that Koster was going to run,” Richard Wright, chairman of the Snohomish County Democratic Party, wrote in an email.

“Additionally of no surprise will be his typical right-wing campaign, I’m sure: anti-government and anti-tax. All whilst campaigning to become part of the government so that he can draw a taxpayer-financed paycheck.”

Koster is arguably the best known and most popular Republican in Snohomish County.

In the Legislature, he carried the torch for the party’s conservative voices in the county and around the state.

Koster then spent three terms on the Snohomish County Council, after which he joined the administration of former Democratic county Executive John Lovick in 2014.

He served as the county’s first ombudsman but didn’t get re-appointed amid concerns about his penning of an anti-union fund-raising letter for the Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank led by a former Koster campaign advisor. Koster has filed a claim for wrongful termination.

Along the way, Koster lost three races for Congress. The last, in 2012, sapped him, and he took a break from the rigors of seeking political office. The time-out is over.

“I needed a little break from politics. I’m ready to get back in the saddle,” he said.

No Democrat has entered the race, but Koster doesn’t expect to go unchallenged.

Neither does Wright.

“The people of the 39th deserve real representation that not only understands their needs, but won’t waste time with the same tired right-wing anti-this anti-that platform, which in the end gets nothing accomplished,” Wright wrote.

Such rhetoric isn’t going to faze a veteran politician like Koster, who pronounced himself fit for the coming political battle.

“I don’t relish getting into campaigns,” he confided. “But once I’m in, I’m all in.”

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com and on Twitter at @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An artist’s rendering of the Amazon distribution center at the Cascade Industrial Center in Arlington.
A tax break used by Arlington, Marysville goes statewide

It’s helped land businesses in Cascade Industrial Center. Soon every city will get a chance to try it.

Breanna Schalamon take Joel Childs' orders Tuesday afternoon at Oxford Saloon in Snohomish on May 4, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Inslee orders two-week pause on counties sliding back phases

Snohomish County, and much of Washington, had braced for reversion to Phase 2 of reopening plan

Snohomish chiropractor accused of sexually touching patients

Six people reported Dr. Ken Parker touched them inappropriately. Some reports were years old. Some were new.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs a bill into law, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in Tukwila, Wash., that levies a new capital gains tax on high profit stocks, bonds and other assets for some residents of Washington state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
New laws will tax the rich, offer aid to low-income workers

Inslee signs bill creating capital gains tax; foes are challenging it in court as unconstitutional.

Nobody injured in fire at Everett hearing clinic

Firefighters extinguished a roof fire around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at 4027 Hoyt Ave.

Standing on a new ramp to his home, Doug Waddell shakes hands with Dennis Taylor and Dan Barmon on April 15 in Sultan. Taylor and Barmon built the ramp for Waddell in exchange for two apple pies. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
What does two apple pies buy? A $3,500 wheelchair ramp

The kindness of two strangers, and a pie baker, helps Sultan amputee come home.

The Waterfront Place Apartments north building at the Port of Everett’s Waterfront Place cold see residents moving in by May 15. on Thursday, April 22, 2021 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Now playing at the Port of Everett: sudden density

New Waterfront Place Apartments open May 15 at the port — local retailers welcome the influx.

Bikes Club of Snohomish County on Grand Ave on their way from Everett waterfront to Snohomish Thursday morning on April 29, 2021.
(Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘Healthy Streets’ not coming back, but Everett plans bike work

Staff review road projects for low-cost way to improve bike infrastructure. Advocates want more.

Snohomish County prosecutor Jacqueline Lawrence makes her opening statements during the murder trial of Jamel Alexander on Friday, April 30, 2021 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Trial begins for Everett man accused of stomping woman to death

Jamel Alexander, 31, is accused of first-degree murder in the death of Shawna Brune, 29, of Everett.

Most Read