Editorial: Herald endorsements for 32nd Legislative District

The editorial board endorses Jesse Salomon for Senate and Cindy Ryu and Lauren Davis for the House.

By The Herald Editorial Board

32nd Legislative District

The 32nd District straddles the border between Snohomish and King counties and includes parts of the cities of Lynnwood, Edmonds, Woodway and Shoreline. The district’s Senate race and both House races drew three candidates, meaning the primary election will determine the top two candidates in the three races for the General Election this November.

Senate

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, has ably served her district for eight years as a senator and for four two-year terms in the House before that. But her recent stance on a legislative transparency issue calls into question her ability to continue in that role.

Chase is challenged by Republican James Wood, a Seattle firefighter and a Navy rescue swimmer who first came to the region during his service at Naval Station Everett; and by Democrat Jesse Salomon, a Shoreline City Council member and its current deputy mayor. Salomon is employed as a child welfare prosecutor and a public defense attorney for King County.

Chase, as did most lawmakers in the last session, voted to approve legislation that would have largely exempted senators and legislators from provisions of the Public Records Act, which requires nearly all other local governments and their officials to release at the public’s request documents, including emails, related to their official work. After significant public backlash, and at the request of many lawmakers, Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed the legislation.

Chase now admits the legislation was hastily considered, voted on less than 48 hours after it was introduced, but in discussions with The Herald editorial board and elsewhere, she continues to support the original legislation and demonstrates a lack of concern regarding the need for lawmaker transparency.

“I’m puzzled by all the focus on sunshine. What are you looking for?” Chase said during her interview with editorial board.

We are not recommending the district’s voters reject Chase over a single vote; this is a fundamental issue that pertains to the whole of a lawmaker’s ability to serve the district and the state.

Both Salomon and Wood expressed full support for the expectation that state lawmakers meet the same public records requirements as any other public official.

But of the two, Salomon is best prepared to serve as senator.

Wood expresses traditional Republican viewpoints on taxes and pledges to lower car tab fees, hold Sound Transit accountable and would oppose “safe drug-injection sites.”

Salomon discussed the need to expand the property tax exemption for seniors and is supportive of gun safety measures.

Salomon’s legislative experience on the Shoreline council, his work in courts on child welfare issues and other legal matters give him a solid background to serve in the Senate on those issues and others.

The Herald endorses Salomon.

House, Position 1

Rep. Cindy Ryu, a Shoreline Democrat, has served four terms in the House, serving in the seat Chase vacated to run for Senate in 2010. Ryu, who emigrated from South Korea as a child, previously served on the Shoreline City Council, including time as mayor.

Ryu is challenged by Keith Smith, who is employed in retail management at a Lynnwood grocer and identifies politically as a centrist; and by Republican Diodato “Dio” Boucsieguez, a recent University of Washington graduate. Boucsieguez did not respond to email requests to participate in the editorial board interview.

Smith has a degree from Central Washington University in law and justice and has volunteered with Snohomish County juvenile court on foster care issues. Smith opposes the Republican-proposed property tax increase passed to increase funding for K-12 education and expressed frustration with the state’s transportation work for failing to adequately address congestion, resulting in a loss of quality time for families. Smith said he sees job creation as the best path toward to ease the tax burden.

Ryu said she intends to focus on issues related to affordable housing and home ownership and has experience with the needs of small businesses.

Ryu did vote to approve the bill that would have excused herself and other lawmakers from the Public Records Act, but she and seatmate Rep. Ruth Kagi, issued an apology and sought the governor’s veto. She now wants to bring the issue back before the Legislature for more discussion.

Ryu also is open to reform of the state’s tax package.

Smith’s legal background and work with children are notable pluses, but Ryu has served her district well and has necessary experience on issues of community development, housing and tribal affairs as chairman of the House committee on those issues.

Ryu should be returned to the House to represent her district.

House, Position 2

The decision by Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Shoreline not to seek re-election after first winning election to the seat 20 years ago, meant the loss of a lawmaker who has been an advocate for children and families, dedicated to early learning and child welfare issues and was an architect of the recently launched state Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Her departure drew the candidacies of Democrat Lauren Davis, founder and executive director of the Washington Recovery Alliance, Republican Frank Deisler, a former New York City paramedic and Shoreline City Council member Chris Roberts. Roberts served as the council-appointed mayor in 2016.

Deisler did not respond to email requests to participate in an interview with the editorial board.

Roberts did respond to an initial email, but because of an error on the part of the opinion page editor, Roberts was not made aware of the board interview date.

Notably, Davis is running with the endorsement of Kagi and would ably continue work on the issues that she championed.

While she is making her first run for political office, Davis is no stranger to public policy or the legislative process.

A graduate of Brown University, Davis was a Fulbright Fellow and worked on job training initiatives in Ghana, Africa, also working there with the Gates Foundation. Through the nonprofit recovery alliance she directs, Davis works on policy and education on addiction and mental health issues. Davis also launched a suicide prevention nonprofit, called Forefront that works with high schools and colleges.

After a friend’s struggle with addiction — helping him to six years of recovery to date — Davis shepherded “Ricky’s Law” through the Legislature in 2016, which has provided a process for involuntary treatment of those with substance abuse disorders.

Davis said she would make mental health, suicide prevention and addiction recovery a focus in the Legislature, but also wants to work on education, affordable housing and gun violence and domestic violence prevention issues.

District residents can confidently elect Davis to the House seat.

Correction: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that candidate Chris Roberts had not returned a request for an interview with the editorial board. Roberts did respond, but an error by the opinion page editor resulted in him not being notified of the meeting date.

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