State Sen. June Robinson is banking on voters backing her record and vision for the Legislature after seven years in the state House.
Bernard Moody is challenging for the position on a tide of discontent with the state’s pandemic response and a “calling” to serve.
They are vying for the seat in the 38th Legislative District that was occupied by John McCoy, a Democrat and Tulalip tribal leader, until he retired in April. The district includes Everett, Tulalip and parts of Marysville and has 82,474 registered voters, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office. More than 137,000 people lived in the district in 2012, according to the Washington State Redistricting Commission.
In the August primary, Robinson, a Democrat from Everett, got 17,822 votes. Moody, a Republican from Everett, received 16,008. Kelly Fox, a Democrat, finished third with 5,529 and was eliminated. The Nov. 3 Election Day winner will fill out the back half of the four-year term.
The Legislature is facing a projected revenue gap as people spent less during the coronavirus pandemic and unemployment rose statewide, COVID-19 problems and recovery, and the aerospace industry’s future after Boeing’s decision to consolidate 787 work in South Carolina. Those are just some of the immediate concerns in addition to long-term discussions about government revenue sources.
Moody, 60, said he’s running to be a voice for the 38th Legislative District, champion small government, and balance state government toward the Republican Party from Democrats holding political power in the state capitol.
“I think that the thing we actually need is to be able to bring some healing, some cooperation,” he said. “The state has for too long been controlled by a single party. That party has no excuse for the failures we’re experiencing.”
Robinson, a veteran in state politics, was a candidate to be state House speaker in 2019. Once McCoy retired, she was appointed to the position and received endorsements from the two other finalists for the position.
Balancing the will of voters statewide and in the legislative district has already been at odds. Even though 51% of voters who had the Sound Transit measure on their ballots approved it, Moody said he sided with statewide voters over the issue because of the history of transportation projects exceeding their budget.
The state’s fight against voter-approved $30 car tabs is one example of lawmakers not following the will of voters, Moody said. The car tab initiative was a statewide measure largely in rebuke of the Sound Transit 3 infrastructure and tax package that voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties approved in 2016.
“After that election my car tabs tripled,” Moody said. “I’m driving the same car.”
Robinson said she’d like to continue work from when she was a lead budget writer in the House to find more reliable and stable revenue than property and sales tax receipts. An income tax would be a challenge after failing seven times before voters and other efforts rebuffed by the Washington State Supreme Court.
One of her pressing concerns for voters is the “regressive” tax structure, which she said makes people who earn the least pay the highest percentage of their income in taxes, while people who make the most money have a smaller tax burden. A potential way to flip that, she said, is to pass a capital gains tax, similar to the federal one, that would apply when someone sells stocks and bonds and investments.
“The economy needs to work for communities and people, not CEOs and shareholders,” Robinson said.
Moody has worked in corrections for over three decades, including in Snohomish County since 1997, and describes himself as empathetic in his role as a sergeant at the jail.
“When they talk to me, I feel it,” he said, noting that he was raised without his father.
He is running as a Republican because of his Christian faith and “sanctity of life” beliefs that he said charges him to care for “an unborn life or a homeless life.” But Moody said he’s not just party line and has voted for Democrats, including John Lovick who was his boss as Snohomish County Sheriff and is seeking election as a state representative in the 44th Legislative District.
Robinson, 61, spent most of her career as a public health professional in King and Snohomish counties. She said it’s proven vital and will continue to be valuable as the state continues work to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I think the pandemic has shown a lot of cracks, a lot of needs, in our social safety net,” Robinson said.
She illustrated her point with scenarios where parents are trying to work from home while monitoring their children’s online learning, or parents who can’t work from home and must choose between staying home or working while schools largely teach remotely.
“We just don’t have good systems, and some of that certainly is due to the pandemic and can’t be avoided,” she said. “… Our childcare system is just not adequate for our workforce in our state. It’s not adequate, it’s not affordable.”
Behavioral and mental health care are other areas she’d champion for greater state investments, Robinson said. That state funding could create more places for in-patient treatment, transitional and permanent housing, and more. She also pointed out a need for people in mental health crises to get help when they need it and relieve the strain on emergency medical technicians, firefighters and law enforcement who currently respond to those 911 calls.
Moody said his first-time candidacy was funded almost entirely by people in the legislative district, and pointed out that Robinson’s top donors mostly are corporations.
Robinson said people can review her voting record. She believes it demonstrates she isn’t beholden to any of her donors.
“Just because I’ve taken a contribution from an industry in the past doesn’t mean I’ll vote the way they want me to,” she said.
Ballots are set to be mailed to registered voters Oct. 15, and are due Nov. 3.