Brandy Donaghy, left, and Mark Harmsworth.

Brandy Donaghy, left, and Mark Harmsworth.

Tight race for 44th District falls along party lines

After being unseated in 2018, Republican Mark Harmsworth is trying to reclaim a seat from Democratic incumbent Brandy Donaghy.

LAKE STEVENS — After losing his seat in 2018, Republican Mark Harmsworth is back in the 44th District and looking to unseat Democratic incumbent Brandy Donaghy.

Last fall, the Snohomish County Council appointed Donaghy to fill a vacancy left by John Lovick, D-Mill Creek. Donaghy won the seat in a 4-1 vote in late 2021.

Harmsworth has served two terms as a state representative in the 44th District, winning elections in 2014 and 2016. In 2018, Jared Mead — now a County Council member — challenged Harmsworth, ousting him with 53.3% of the vote.

After four years, Harmsworth is back and aiming to turn the seat red again.

Donaghy won the two-way primary with 53.5%, a margin of 2,643 votes.

The 44th District has changed a bit in the past two years. Due to redistricting, the lines were pulled south. Having once stretched north to Getchell road in Marysville, encompassing Lake Stevens and Cavalero Corner, now the district’s northern border skirts Snohomish and east Everett. It expands south past Maltby to the King County border. Lake Stevens is now part of the 39th District.

As of this week, Donaghy reported $194,209 in campaign contributions, and Harmsworth reported $182,990. Donaghy has an additional $4,000 in loans.

Election day is Nov. 8.

Brandy Donaghy

Donaghy, 49, a Navy veteran, spent the decade prior to her nomination as a community organizer and volunteer. In her one year as state representative, she has sponsored six bills — two of which have passed.

“What I’m hearing right now is that people are concerned about costs. They’re concerned about public safety,” Donaghy said in an interview Tuesday, defining public safety as encompassing both crime and pandemic response. “Another is reproductive freedom. My goal here is to make sure my priorities are (the public’s) priorities.”

Donaghy plans to back Gov. Jay Inslee and state Sen. John Lovick’s plan to create regional criminal justice training centers. She says it will allow more people — specifically those with families that are unable to relocate to Burien to train — to go through the program, putting more officers in uniform. They hope to open a center in Everett.

Donaghy said she is proudest of House Bill 2033, a bill she sponsored to outfit fire department vehicles with blue lights that offer higher visibility. She explained the emergency zone signals help keep first responders safe while reporting to incidents, which should be “the very least of what we give back” to first responders.

Donaghy said her commitment to emergency preparedness comes from her time in the Navy as well as a concern for the future of public safety.

“When you do what you can to have resources in place that you know you’re going to need, you end up in a much better position,” Donaghy said. “You’re able to regain your footing much faster afterwards, and there’s less panic because people know that they need to do.”

On reproductive rights, Donaghy said she will work to protect the rights of women to make decisions for themselves.

“I don’t want someone else making decisions for my uterus,” Donaghy said.

Donaghy said she wants to prioritize education, because it solves many other issues downstream.

“I really like my job,” Donaghy said. “I love being able to talk to people, find out what they need, and then take steps to get it done for them. I want to serve people, and to serve people I have to be accessible.”

Mark Harmsworth

Harmsworth, 52, never responded to repeated requests for an interview with The Daily Herald.

He has been active on Twitter, however, where his bio reads: “Recovering State Representative – citizen rights, less congestion, smaller efficient government. Conservative. Car guy. All with a British accent.”

According to past profiles in the paper, he was born in England and studied at City College Plymouth in Plymouth, England, before relocating to Seattle as a software developer.

He worked at Microsoft for 14 years and spent a handful of years at other tech companies such as Amazon and Blueprint technologies.

In 2012, after stints in the Mill Creek City Council, Harmsworth ran against incumbent Hans Dunshee in the 44th District. He lost with 45.6% of the vote, then went on to secure two terms in 2014 and 2016.

In office, Harmsworth was active on transportation issues. He was formerly the Transportation Committee’s ranking member. He is firmly against tolls. He has expressed concerns about the state’s carbon tax and its cost to consumers. He is also concerned about mandating electric cars, due to the impact on low-income residents. He listed safety and lowering high gas prices as top priorities for this campaign.

On safety, Harmsworth believes the state went too farm with police reform, according to an editorial in The Seattle Times. He supports the multiple rollbacks of reforms that lawmakers passed last session.

On Oct. 11, Harmsworth announced via Twitter that he would vote to repeal a proposed tax on gas prices, supporting a movement from Solutions on the Table.

His views on the 2020 election are unclear. According to the Times editorial, Harmsworth has no plans to move against any established decisions on abortion rights.

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

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