John Lovick, left, and Jeb Brewer.

John Lovick, left, and Jeb Brewer.

Q&A: John Lovick and Jeb Brewer discuss priorities in the 44th

Republican Brewer wants to cut government spending while Democrat Lovick hopes to fund education, reduce homelessness.

SNOHOMISH — Democratic state Sen. John Lovick and Republican challenger Jeb Brewer differ on about everything but public safety in their duel in the 44th Legislative District.

Lovick, of Mill Creek, is seeking his first full term after getting appointed to the Senate seat last fall. He was a state representative when Steve Hobbs resigned from the Senate to take statewide office and the Snohomish County Council unanimously chose him to fill the vacancy. Brandy Donaghy was then appointed to fill Lovick’s House seat.

In the August primary, Lovick beat Brewer with 58.3% of the vote, a difference of 6,231 votes.

Brewer, of Clearview, has lived in Washington for 19 years and is currently the project executive for Sevan Multi-Site Solutions, where he oversees construction projects for national chains. He ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat in the 1st Legislative District in 2020.

As a result of redistricting, he became a resident of the 44th District, which now encompasses Snohomish, Silver Firs and parts of Mill Creek, North Creek and Maltby. Lake Stevens was moved to the 39th.

In interviews with the Daily Herald this week, the two candidates tackled eight questions, and their responses were edited for clarity and space.

Question: How would you describe yourself?

John Lovick: I’m a servant leader. I’ve been in public service for over 52 years. I started in the Coast Guard where I served a total of 13 years. I was a state trooper for 31 years. Served my city on the Mill Creek City Council for five years. I served the county as the sheriff and county executive for a total of nine years. I was in the Legislature for 15, and I’ve been a state senator now for just under a year. My life is about service, and I love service.

Jeb Brewer: I see myself as a process guy. I don’t like waste, I’m always looking for ways to make things more streamlined, more efficient, make it simpler for the end user. And that’s how I’m looking at the role of government. It should be budget conscious and as simple as possible for the end user.

Q: What are your top issues?

Lovick: We need to correct some of the errors with education. Public safety will be the second one — everybody’s gonna be focused on public safety. And we’re going to address this issue of homelessness.

Brewer: Public safety, taxes and overall government waste.

Q: Both of you named public safety as a top priority. What would your approach be?

Lovick: We need to get more officers trained and on the streets. Seattle Police Department is down about 400 officers. I have a proposal, that’s getting a lot of good support, to create some regional training campuses in the state instead of having to commute and train everyone down in Burien — and one or two classes in Spokane. We already have a location for one in Pasco. We’re looking for a location in Everett.

Brewer: The laws for pursuit and restraint. I think those laws are broken. If you run away from the scene of a crime, most likely you either did it, or you’re aware of what happened. And you should be talked to. Letting that guy run away is a problem. I think that’s what’s leading to pretty much all the crime statistics in the state being up. People do not feel safe.

Q: Sen. Lovick, you listed education as your top priority. Why and what do you think needs to be done?

Lovick: I’ve visited just about every school in the district, prior to redistricting, and about every school in the county. And what the educators are telling me is we need to do more to address the area of special education. We need to get more counselors, and we need more nurses in our schools. You know we did a lot with McCleary — we raised the salaries and lowered the class size — but we need more nurses, more counselors and special education. [Writer’s note: In the McCleary case, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution requires the state to pay for all basic education costs.]

Q: Mr. Brewer, what will be your approach on taxes?

Brewer: First, the gas tax. We pay the third highest in the nation. In my mind, it’s a tax on the poor. It makes it difficult to get to work. It makes it difficult to buy virtually every product. We need to be doing everything we can to get that gas tax lower, to reduce it by half or whatever is feasible. Next, property tax. I’ve had friends move out of state because they can’t retire here. Property taxes are hugely expensive. I’d like to put restrictions on property tax, so if you’re over a certain age, your property tax doesn’t go up. If you buy a house in the country, and people decide to develop next to you, your tax rates will go up because of somebody else’s decision. I’d like to put some restriction that your taxes should be based off of the area when you’re buying the house at the time.

Q: Senator, what steps do you see are needed to address homelessness?

Lovick: I’m working with Sen. (Patty) Kuderer (of Bellevue) and we’re looking at what is known as the Singapore model. We’re going to find a way to turn public housing into private ownership. I’m also working with (former) Speaker Frank Chopp, talking about a reinvestment account to get some money in the process. We’re also going to do more to support counties, like King and Snohomish counties, when they are purchasing buildings and turning them into public housing.

Q: Mr. Brewer, can you define government waste and explain your plan to tackle it?

Brewer: The Legislature’s perspective has always to been to add new laws, add new regulations, but they very rarely look at how we can simplify things? How we can reduce laws in the books? How we can hold departments accountable for their spending?’ All the transportation bills need to be looked at— there’s just a huge amount of waste. For example, Highway 9 is supposed to expand eventually from two lanes to four lanes, but they just built a two lane roundabout. Now, if they ever want to expand to four lanes all the way to Lake Stevens — like they promised us — they’ve got to rip out that roundabout and spend more money to fix it. That’s a problem.

Q:What is your biggest accomplishment that qualifies you for this position?

Lovick: My experience. I’ve served in every level: city, county, state and federal government. I’m uniquely qualified, I’ve done everything you want to do. And, you know, I get things done. And just two or three weeks into my first session in the Senate, I was called on to preside over the Senate floor. I was quite pleased with serving (in the House) as the Speaker Pro Tempore where I presided over hundreds and hundreds of bills every year, running the floor debate.

Brewer: I’ve been in business for 30 years as a project manager, as a director. I’ve led people. I’ve pulled together diverse teams to find solutions. I believe I can use that same skill set in Olympia to find solutions. I’m not a politician, I don’t want to be a politician. I’m not the best speaker, but I’m a good listener. I’m a good guy that figures out how to get stuff done and is willing to attack the problems to fix things.

Q: What is your stance on abortion?

Lovick: Government should not play a role. That should be a personal decision between the woman, her family and her physician.

Brewer: I think the abortion question is pretty simple, especially in Washington. Regardless of whatever feelings I have one way or the other, once elected, my job is to reflect the will of people, and the will of people has already spoken.

Q: How do you respond to claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent or rigged?

Lovick: Those who are saying that need to get over themselves. If their side won, it was okay. If their side lost, it was rigged. It’s just so ridiculous. The election is over. Let’s move on.

Brewer: That Biden winning was a fraud? I don’t know. I mean probably on both sides. Whether Republicans won one or the Democrats won one, it’s always the losing party that’s going to complain, sometimes right, sometimes wrong. As it stands, I think (Biden) was elected.

Kayla Dunn: 425-339-3449; kayla.dunn@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @KaylaJ_Dunn.

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