Two have eyes on 32nd District incumbent Rep. Maralyn Chase

A familiar face and an unfamiliar one are challenging a longtime state lawmaker in south Snohomish County.

Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, faces off against Margaret Wiggins, 55, a Northshore Utility District board member.

Wiggins has never run against Chase, but twice tried to unseat her 32nd District colleague, Rep. Ruth Kagi, in 2002 and 2004.

By contrast, six months ago, real-estate broker Alex Rion, 45, was living in Michigan.

He moved to unincorporated King County, near Kirkland, in March. Now, he’s running for the Legislature as a Republican.

This is his first try at elected office, he said.

“I tell everyone I’ve never run for canine relocation specialist,” he said.

The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary, regardless of party, advance to the general election in November. The 32nd District covers the southern part of Edmonds and Woodway in Snohomish County, along with Shoreline, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore in King County.

Rion said local GOP officials asked him to run after he called a talk-radio show. He agreed because the projected $2.7 billion state budget deficit reminds him of what he called a fiscal crisis in Michigan, he said.

“We had a governor who had worked hand in hand with the state Legislature and spent the state into economic oblivion,” he said. “The blueprint I saw unfold in Michigan is unfolding here in front of us.”

Rion isn’t yet sure what he would pare from state expenditures.

“We definitely need to start to look at where we can cut the budget. What that is, I can’t tell you.”

Chase, 66, serves on ­committees pertaining to Capital Budget, Community and Economic Development and Trade, and Environmental Health.

Chase is proud of her bill providing assistance for renters whose buildings are converted to condominiums, extending the notification period from 90 to 120 days and requiring owners to extend $500 in relocation assistance. The bill passed this year and became law Aug. 1.

“It’s really hard for low-income people to get the money together” to find a new home, she said.

Chase has focused a great deal on environmental issues and passed a bill to provide tax incentives for people to install solar-powered hot water systems in their homes.

Chase’s next project, she said, is to try to increase regulations on pesticides. In Eastern Washington, “you have orchards right next to schools” and pesticide spray could be drifting to the school grounds, she said.

Wiggins has not declared a party. In previous years, she ran as a Republican. Each time, a central theme of her campaign is opposing a any effort to create a state income tax, and while she’s not actively campaigning in this race, it’s still her biggest concern, she said.

“The Democratic party is not concerned with balancing the budget, they are concerned with starting an income tax,” she said. “They’re just twisting people’s arms.”

This time, in Chase, she has an opponent who openly favors an income tax to bring stability to state finances. Chase doesn’t expect it to happen any time soon — it would take a constitutional amendment to pass — but “I will continue to work for an income tax,” she said.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

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