Stiff competition to succeed retiring state senator McAuliffe

The race to succeed retiring state Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe of Bothell features two familiar names for Democrats and a newcomer for Republicans.

Rep. Luis Moscoso of Bothell and Snohomish County Fire Commissioner Guy Palumbo of Maltby, both Democrats, and Mindie Wirth of Bothell, a Republican, are competing for the job that McAuliffe, a Democrat, had held since 1993.

The top two finishers in the Aug. 2 primary will advance to the November general election. The winner will serve a four-year term in the 1st Legislative District, which straddles the border of Snohomish and King counties. It includes the cities of Bothell, Brier, Mountlake Terrace and Kirkland.

Moscoso, 66, is in his third term in the state House. He is a vice-chairman of the House Transportation Committee and former transit union leader who’s been a steady voice for civil rights and public safety legislation.

Moscoso said he’s running “to keep the seat Democratic and to follow through with the work I’ve been doing in transportation and public safety.”

And, with the likelihood only one of the Democratic hopefuls will emerge from the primary, Moscoso said his experience trumps Palumbo’s.

“I am banking on the fact I have name recognition and I have a record to run on,” he said, adding voters will decide if a “recently elected fire commissioner has the experience or connections to do the job I’ve done.”

Palumbo, 42, owner of the Roscoe’s Ranch dog boarding business, serves on the Snohomish County Planning Commission and was elected to the fire commission in 2013.

He challenged McAuliffe in 2012, finishing third in the primary behind her and Republican Dawn McCravey.

Earlier this year, Palumbo sought to fill the vacancy on the Snohomish County Council created when Dave Somers was elected county executive. Though Palumbo received the most support from Democratic precinct officers, the council selected Hans Dunshee, then a state representative.

Palumbo cast this race as a choice between a legislator with an unimpressive track record and himself, a successful businessman who can find the middle ground on the major challenges facing the state.

“People need to realize politics is compromise,” he said.

Wirth, 36, a senior program manager at Microsoft Corp., is co-president of the 8,000-member Northshore PTSA Council, which represents 30 schools and 21,000 students. She also has been the Legislative and Advocacy Chair for her children’s elementary school PTA.

Republican senators recruited her for the race, she said. The political arm of the Senate GOP caucus has contributed $10,000 to her campaign.

Wirth said she agreed to run because she believes in public service

“The idea is you help people,” she said. “You pass laws that you hope will make people’s lives better.”

Tolling on the I-405 express lanes and public school funding are two of the biggest issues on the campaign trail.

Palumbo said he would vote to get rid of the express lane tolls if there is an opportunity. And he criticized Moscoso for not doing enough to get problems fixed, including the increased congestion in Bothell since the lanes opened.

Moscoso voted for legislation that paved the way for the toll lanes to operate. But, he said, he’s no longer a fan because of the problems.

“I cannot say I can support (tolls) with the way it is playing out in my district,” he said.

Wirth, who also criticized the lack of legislative leadership on transportation policy, said she’s not anti-tolls “but right now I am anti-405 tolls based on the way it has been implemented.”

On school funding, the state could spend as much as $3.5 billion more in the next state budget to fully fund schools as required in the McCleary case.

Moscoso and Palumbo said additional dollars are needed but neither one embraced a particular source.

Wirth, meanwhile, said she doesn’t think there is a need for new revenue. “I think the revenue is there and it just depends on where it is spent,” she said.

On another education issue, Wirth and Palumbo support charter schools while Moscoso opposes them.

Regarding a proposed initiative to raise the minimum wage to $13.50 an hour, Moscoso said he supports it. Palumbo said he backs the concept but needs to study the impact on small business before committing on how he’ll vote.

Wirth said she “struggles with this. I don’t look at the minimum wage as a living wage.”

Palumbo leads the way in fundraising, with $75,543 as of Friday, according to online records of the state Public Disclosure Commission. Wirth had reported $25,730 in contributions, followed by Moscoso with $23,952.

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

Luis Moscoso

Residence: Bothell

Age: 66

Party: Democrat

Experience: State representative, 2010-present; House Transportation Committee, co-vice-chairman; Puget Sound Regional Council, transportation policy board.

Website: http://voteluis.com

Guy Palumbo

Residence: Maltby

Age: 42

Party: Democrat

Experience: Snohomish County Fire Commissioner District 7, 2013-present; Snohomish County planning commissioner; Roscoe’s Ranch, dog boarding facility, owner.

Website: http://www.guy4senate.com/

Mindie Wirth

Residence: Bothell

Age: 36

Party: Republican

Experience: Northshore PTSA Council, co-president; Microsoft Corp., senior program manager.

Website: http://www.wirththevote.com/

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