Top (L-R): Carolyn Eslick, Keith Wagoner. Bottom (L-R): Eric Halvorson, Claus Joens.

Top (L-R): Carolyn Eslick, Keith Wagoner. Bottom (L-R): Eric Halvorson, Claus Joens.

Republicans look to keep grip on seats in 39th District

Concerns about roads, water and gun rights dominate the candidates’ conversations on the campaign trail.

Republicans are looking to maintain the party’s control of three seats in the 39th Legislative District in east Snohomish County.

Sen. Keith Wagoner, of Sedro-Woolley, who was appointed to his position before the 2018 session, is facing Democrat Claus Joens, of Marblemount, the top vote-getter in the multi-candidate primary.

Rep. Carolyn Eslick, of Sultan, appointed to her seat last fall, is up against Democrat Eric Halvorson, of Monroe, a first-time candidate.

And Republican Robert Sutherland is dueling Democrat Ivan Lewis to succeed Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, who is retiring at the end of his term. Kristiansen is the former House Minority Leader.

The 39th District takes in rural areas of Snohomish and Skagit counties, and a sliver of King County. It includes the cities of Arlington, Monroe, Sultan, Gold Bar and Index.

Transportation, water, taxes and gun rights are among the dominant issues.

Wagoner, the former Sedro-Woolley mayor, and Joens, a Concrete High School teacher, are competing for a four-year term.

Wagoner took office in January, replacing Kirk Pearson, of Monroe, who resigned to join the Trump administration.

If elected, he said he will focus on accelerating the timetable for widening Highway 522 to four lanes south of Monroe and rebuilding or replacing the U.S. 2 trestle.

“Our citizens shouldn’t have to waste their lives in stop-and-go traffic,” he wrote in his voter pamphlet statement.

He backs incentives for building affordable housing and vowed to defend the rights of gun owners.

Although the state Supreme Court recently found Washington’s death penalty law unconstitutional, Wagoner said he would not support erasing it from the books. “I would like to see the Legislature work toward a solution that fits into the decision,” he said.

Both candidates agree on the need to assist Skagit County property owners who were excluded from a state law dealing with permitting for new wells. The exclusion of Skagit County has meant landowners there are unable to obtain water to develop or improve their property.

Joens also has said he wants to improve sports fishing, bolster salmon fisheries and raise the legal age for using marijuana to 25.

In recent weeks, he’s called for decriminalizing of drug tests administered to students, and destruction of those records upon their graduation. Those who test positive should be ushered toward treatment rather than punished, he said.

“We can’t solve the problem if we can’t get them into treatment,” he said.

The contest to succeed Kristiansen pits Lewis, a progressive Democrat in his first bid for office, against Sutherland, a conservative Republican seeking his third office in four years.

Sutherland ran for Congress in 2014 and 2016, and for Snohomish County executive in 2015.

In this race, he has called for freezing property taxes on existing homes and restoring the ability of Skagit County landowners to obtain water to develop their property. He opposed use of tolls or higher gas taxes to fund widening of Highway 522 and fixing of the U.S. 2 trestle. He said the state’s reserves, projected to be $3.2 billion by the end of the fiscal year, can cover the work.

“They can pay for it in cash right now,” Sutherland said.

He’s made gun rights a focal point of his campaign and strongly opposes Initiative 1639, a ballot measure that would impose new restrictions on buying and storing firearms.

“I will bring our fight to Olympia,” he declared at an April rally of gun owners at which he announced his candidacy.

Lewis, a former volunteer firefighter, manages a tutoring center, and operates a hobby farm.

If elected, he wants to work on improving access to health care, expanding support services for those addicted to opioids and bolstering the state’s education system. That would require investments in colleges and in career and technical education programs.

The state’s tax system needs to be less regressive, he said. Replacing the retail sales tax and gross receipts tax paid by businesses with new taxes on personal and corporate incomes is worth exploring, he said.

Regarding transportation, he supports speeding up the timetable for Highway 522 and undertaking more safety improvements on U.S. 2. He said he opposes tolling on the primary lanes on the trestle but would be open to tolling the carpool lanes.

A gun owner, he supports Initiative 1639. If it doesn’t pass, he said some of its elements “are relatively easy legislative fixes.”

Eslick and Halvorson, who are vying for Position 2, cite widening of Highway 522 as their chief focus in transportation. Halvorson said he wants the project moved up in the state transportation department’s project schedule because “we’re growing a lot faster than the people who put that schedule together thought.”

Rebuilding or replacing the U.S. 2 trestle is next. Both said they disliked using tolls or higher gas taxes to pay for the projects.

On water rights, Eslick said she hoped a task force that is now examining the issues would offer tangible recommendations for resolving concerns in Skagit County.

Eslick also said she will work to increase services for those with mental health challenges, and come up with ideas to address a growing elk population which has been decimating ranch land and crops.

Halvorson, an accountant, said he wants to tackle the state’s system of taxation deemed one of the nation’s most regressive. Reducing or eliminating tax incentives may be a way to increase revenue while enabling changes to more fairly spread the burden of funding services, he said.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

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

Senate

Claus Joens

Party: Democratic

Age: 55

Residence: Marblemount

Experience: Career and technical education/business teacher, Concrete High School; Precinct Committee Officer, Skagit County; Civil Air Patrol, captain.

Website: www.joens39.com

Keith Wagoner

Party: Republican

Age: 57

Residence: Sedro-Woolley

Experience: State senator, 2018-present; Sedro-Woolley mayor, 2015-18; Sedro-Woolley City Council, 2010-15; retired U.S. Navy commander.

Website: www.wagonerforsenate.com

Representative, Position 1

Ivan Lewis

Party: Democratic

Age: 29

Residence: Sultan

Experience: Math and reading tutoring center, owner; hobby farm owner; former volunteer firefighter.

Website: www.electivanlewis.com

Robert Sutherland

Party: Republican

Age: 59

Residence: Granite Falls

Experience: Retired scientist; U.S. Air Force veteran; former Snohomish County Republican Party Executive Committee, congressional candidate, 2014 and 2016; Snohomish County executive candidate, 2015.

Website: www.sutherland4rep.com

Representative, Position 2

Carolyn Eslick

Party: Republican

Age: 68

Residence: Sultan

Experience: State representative, 2017-present, Sultan mayor, 2010-17; Sultan City Council, 1995-2001; Grow Washington, founder and former executive director;

Website: www.eslick4state.com

Eric Halvorson

Party: Democratic

Age: 47

Residence: Monroe

Experience: 39th District Democrats, executive board; Oscar’s Animal Sanctuary, owner; accountant.

Website: www.ericforthe39th.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

Eve Barrows (left) and the students duck and cover under desks during an Earthquake Drill at Port Susan Middle School on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in Stanwood, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘Drop, cover, hold on!’ Stanwood kids hear new alarms in quake drill

The Great ShakeOut offered a dress rehearsal Thursday for a new system that aims to warn before the tremors start.

This crash in Monroe happened early Friday morning after police discontinued a high-speed chase. Both occupants were taken to a hospital. (Monroe Police Department) 20211022
2 seriously injured in Monroe crash; DUI suspected

The driver hit a center lane divider and rolled his car. Police are investigating him for vehicular assault.

Everett Farmer’s Market canceled Sunday due to weather

Organizers cited a high-wind advisory. It is to reopen Oct. 31 for the final market of the season.

Police: ‘Prolific’ Marysville thief stole from dozens of gym lockers

The suspect, 23, was arrested this week for investigation of more than 55 felonies.

Alejandro Meza watches a video of the altercation he had with Gene Peterson on Community Transit bus during opening statements of his trial on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Murder trial opens for man who shot stranger on Everett bus

Alejandro Meza got into a fight with a passenger over drug use, he claimed. His attorneys say he acted in self-defense.

Police are searching for a female suspect following a burglary at the Masjid Umar Al-Farooq Mosque in Mountlake Terrace. (City of Mountlake Terrace)
Police arrest suspect in Mountlake Terrace mosque burglary

Another person remained at large, after burglars took prayer rugs and Qurans then threw them in a dumpster.

Arlington schools briefly on lockout; students, staff safe

A Mukilteo resident reportedly intended to die by suicide in a school parking lot. They were found and referred to care.

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, center, greets a new trooper during a graduation ceremony, as Gov. Jay Inslee looks on in the Rotunda at the Capitol Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Olympia, Wash. The class of 31 troopers completed more than 1,000 hours of training and will now work for the WSP across the state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Rather than get vaccine, nearly 2,000 state workers lose jobs

Ten troopers north of Seattle, 54 Monroe prison workers and hundreds more across the state refused the governor’s mandate.

Most Read