John Lovick (left) and Jeff Sax

John Lovick (left) and Jeff Sax

Lovick and Sax duel on car tabs, tolls and transparency

It’s quieter since Sax posted excerpts of sex abuse investigation of Lovick that produced no charges.

The political duel for a legislative seat between Democratic state Rep. John Lovick and Republican Jeff Sax at times has been personal.

Lovick, one of Snohomish County ‘s most recognized elected officials, is seeking a second term in his second tour as a House member from the 44th District.

The 67-year-old Mill Creek resident is counting on relationships built in a long career in elected politics to carry him to re-election.

“They know me. They trust me,” he said.

Sax, a former Snohomish County Councilmember, is campaigning on a message of change.

The 56-year-old Snohomish resident said the incumbent’s partisan voting record coupled with issues in his personal history make him undeserving of another two years in the Legislature.

“He is not voting (for) the district. He is not representing the district at all,” he said. “We need a new direction.”

Lovick, a retired Washington State Patrol trooper, began his political career on the Mill Creek City Council. He won a state House seat in 1998 and was in his fifth term in 2007 when he ran for Snohomish County sheriff and won. He was appointed Snohomish County executive in 2013 after the resignation of Aaron Reardon. In 2015, he ran for a full term and lost to another Democrat, Dave Somers.

Lovick wasn’t out of office long. When Hans Dunshee resigned his state House seat to replace Somers on the County Council, Lovick was picked for the vacancy.

If re-elected, Lovick said he wants to focus on improving the state’s efforts to house the homeless, assist those with mental illness, aid those battling opioid addiction and bolster school safety.

Funding for public schools will be an issue too. In 2017, Lovick voted against the school funding law intended to get the state in compliance with the Supreme Court decision in the McCleary case. He said he did so because it relied too heavily on a property tax increase. Earlier this year he voted for a bill providing property owners a one-time reduction in 2019.

That 2017 bill also capped how much school districts can raise from local property tax levies. Districts want the cap lifted, but Lovick is opposed.

Though Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal is calling for passage of a capital gains tax to aid schools, Lovick said he opposes such a tax.

Sax won a seat on the Snohomish County Council in 2001 but lost his re-election bid in 2005. He has worked for the city of Monroe as an economic development manager. He is currently employed by Windermere Real Estate.

He said he will work to lower property taxes permanently and opposes a capital gains tax. While he, too, thinks public schools will need more money, he does not support lifting the levy cap.

“I don’t think we have a revenue problem. I think we have a spending problem in this state,” he said.

On the campaign trail, he seeks to draw a distinction between himself and Lovick on three issues — car tabs, tolls and government transparency.

Sax said he wants to reduce car tab fees tied to the expansion of Sound Transit and criticizes Lovick for supporting the ballot measure that increased them.

He said he opposes the use of tolls on I-405 and would oppose their use to pay for rebuilding the westbound trestle of U.S. 2. Sax said he would support a statewide increase in the gas tax to finance the trestle replacement, a project that may cost up to $1 billion.

Lovick isn’t ruling out tolls on U.S. 2. Funding is going to be a challenge, he said, and “none of us know the answers yet.”

Lovick said he would not oppose letting voters decide. Sax said lawmakers should make the decision on financing.

And Sax vowed to support legislation making lawmaker records subject to disclosure under the state Public Records Act.

He criticized Lovick for voting for a bill to limit which legislative records are released. That bill, passed without any public hearings, was vetoed by the governor.

Lovick said he did not intend to support the bill, but a colleague incorrectly pushed the “yes” button for him while he oversaw floor debate as Speaker pro tem. The next day, Lovick said he requested that a change in his vote be made in the House journal.

Public records about Lovick’s past shifted the focus of the contest in September.

Sax released documents obtained from the Mill Creek Police Department of county and state investigations of accusations of sexual misconduct against Lovick. They were made by his ex-wife and daughter in the early 1990s.

Sax posted 13 pages of the material on a website created by his campaign, The Lovick Files.

Lovick denied the allegations, and none of the investigations resulted in charges.

Sax also provided reporters with copies of documents from Lovick’s divorce from his first wife. Among those were notes from 1991 in which his son and daughter, then teenagers, recounted incidents of verbal abuse and uncomfortable behavior by their father.

Lovick said he did not recall ever seeing those notes. His son and daughter issued statements in September recanting what they wrote.

Sax said in spite of those statements, the documents should give voters pause. He expressed disappointment more attention had not been given the accusations.

Release of the records do not appear to have helped Sax’s bid for office. He had received only four contributions from individuals since Sept. 13 which is when The Herald published its first story on the records.

As of Wednesday, Sax had reported $36,717 in contributions and nearly the same amount in expenditures. Lovick, meanwhile, reported $274,537 in contributions and $206,629 in expenditures.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

What’s at stake?

A two-year term representing the 44th Legislative District in the state House of Representatives, Position 1. The district is home to more than 150,000 people in Lake Stevens, Mill Creek and Snohomish, plus parts of Everett and Marysville. The job pays $48,731 annually.

Meet the candidates

John Lovick

Party: Democrat

Age: 67

Residence: Mill Creek

Experience: State representative, 1999-2007, 2016-present; Snohomish County sheriff, 2007-13; Snohomish County executive, 2013-2015; former Mill Creek City Council member; retired Washington State Patrol trooper.

Website: https://www.electjohnlovick.com/

Jeff Sax

Party: Republican

Age: 56

Residence: Snohomish

Experience: Snohomish County councilman, 2001-05; former economic development director for city of Monroe, land-use consultant.

Website: https://www.electjeffsax.com/

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