By The Herald Editorial Board
The new legislative district boundaries adopted this year made notable changes for the 44th Legislative District. The district kept its base communities of Mill Creek and Snohomish but lost the city of Lake Stevens and neighborhoods just south of 20th Street SE but added communities around North Creek, Maltby, Clearview and Cathcart as well as the region between Echo Lake Road and High Bridge Road.
44th Legislative District, Senate
The incumbent, Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, was appointed to the Senate in late 2021 to fill a vacancy. He is challenged by Jeb Brewer, a Republican from Snohomish.
Prior to his appointment to the Senate, Lovick served twice in the state House, from 1999 to 2007 and from 2016 to 2021. Lovick also was elected to office as Snohomish County sheriff, Snohomish County executive and on the Mill Creek City Council. He previously worked with the Washington State Patrol for 31 years and in the U.S. Coast Guard. Lovick has volunteered as a youth sports coach, in classrooms and as a mentor.
Brewer, a 20-year county resident, currently manages operations for retail construction contractors. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology. Licensed as a home inspector, he has provided volunteer help for efforts building affordable homes abroad and locally. Brewer said he is running to improve matters for his district and the state, citing concerns with crime, homelessness, traffic and taxes, noting that friends he has talked with are reconsidering whether this is where they want to retire. Brewer previously ran for a House seat in 2020.
Brewer and Lovick were interviewed jointly by the editorial board last month.
Regarding public safety issues, Brewer is critical of recent legislation that he believes has made the work of police and deputies more difficult, specifically with the rules for police pursuit. There was reason for review of guidelines, Brewer said, but officers now feel limited in making the call to pursue when necessary.
Lovick says a second look to clarify police pursuit rules is needed, but defends the package of legislation that followed consultation with law enforcement representatives and others following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in 2020 and the demands for reform that followed. Even after needed legislation passed, the Legislature went back and made necessary adjustments.
Looking to enhance the tools available to law enforcement, Lovick said he plans to introduce legislation that would facilitate the use of aerial drones to track suspects in situations where pursuit is unsafe or difficult.
Lovick believes a main concern for public safety is a shortage of officer recruits and transfers for law enforcement agencies, especially as a number of officers retire or prepare to retire. Lovick is pursuing the development of regional training academies to help build up police and sheriff department rosters by making that training more accessible, with plans for four campuses throughout the state, including one in Everett.
On transportation spending, Brewer used Highway 9 as an example of his frustrations with the state’s funding and planning of projects. The highway through Snohomish County has segments that expand from two lanes to four, then back to two, creating congestion and increasing commute times. The same, he said, will happen with a new roundabout on Highway 9 in Snohomish, again designed with only one lane each, north and south, rather than two lanes in those directions.
Lovick admits that more funding is needed in the county, including for Highway 522, which also switches between two and four lanes, but believes the transportation budget adopted earlier this year made needed investments in all corners of the state.
On the issue of taxes, Lovick said he believes the state’s tax code is “upside-down,” taking a greater percentage of income from lower-income families than from wealthier families. He’s looking forward to proposals expected from a bipartisan, bicameral work group considering various scenarios for improving the state’s package of taxes, including a replacement for the state’s business and occupation tax and a property tax exemption for primary residences.
Brewer said he believes the Legislature’s default has been to raise taxes rather than look for inefficiencies and for opportunities to reduce costs in government. Brewer said a property tax exemption could offer some relief.
Brewer demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the issues faced by the state and its residents and a willingness to work toward solutions, but Lovick’s length and breadth of service and the leadership he has shown at the level of city and county government and now in the Legislature makes the case for a full term in the Senate.
Along with serving as a leader in consideration of law enforcement legislation, Lovick also focused on the county’s basic law and justice needs. He was the primary sponsor of legislation that increased the number of superior court judges in the county from 15 to 17. Lovick said he now plans to seek an additional judge for the court’s Cascade District.
Although the bill did not advance last year, Lovick also was sponsor of legislation that would allow a sentencing alternative for those convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, with the potential of getting someone into treatment rather than incarceration.
And while some may question the importance of such legislation, Lovick also was the primary sponsor of successful bills that designated pickleball as the official state sport — with potential to promote a healthy activity for residents and the economic benefit of tournaments — and created the Patches Pal vehicle license plate, celebrating the children’s television icon, J.P. Patches, with proceeds benefiting the Seattle Children’s Hospital Strong Against Cancer program.
During terms in the House and Senate, Lovick has been a long-standing advocate for legislation and funding that improves government service and infrastructure, as well as bills that promote interests that add to communities’ quality of life and cohesiveness. Voters can return Lovick to the Senate with confidence.
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