Editorial: Palumbo and Bailey merit state Senate posts

By The Herald Editorial Board

1st Legislative District, Senate

The 1st District, split between Snohomish and King counties, covers the cities of Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Bothell and part of Kirkland and south Snohomish County communities west of High Bridge Road.

Following 24 years in office, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe stepped down, opening a seat that attracted to the race Republican Mindie Worth, and Democrats Guy Palumbo and Rep. Luis Moscoso. A bitter race between the Democrats ended with primary victories for Wirth and Palumbo.

Wirth, who has lived most of her life in Bothell, worked for several years at Microsoft. She has not served in political office but served as an official and legislative chairwoman with her local PTA and with the Northshore PTA Council.

Wirth said she has concerns that the state, as the No. 2 importer of employees for skilled employment, needs to complete work to fund education but move beyond the funding issue to fulfilling its obligations to prepare students for college and careers. That is possible, Wirth believes, without new taxes, though she sees one possible source of funding as federal legislation that would implement a sales tax on online retail sales. Nor is she supportive of a levy swap to resolve the over-reliance on local school levies.

Wirth opposes the I-405 express toll lanes, and wants them restored as carpool lanes, more lane capacity and increases in bus rapid transit and in park-and-ride stalls.

Palumbo, a transplant from Queens, New York, has lived in the region since 1999 and previously worked for Amazon. He now lives in the Maltby area where he operates a kennel business.

Palumbo was elected in 2013 as a fire commission for District 7. A self-described “land use nerd,” he has served on the county Planning Commission since 2011 and has been its chairman for two years, leading the update of the county’s comprehensive plan.

On education funding, Palumbo said any funding solution can’t divert funds from other priorities for the state, including higher education, criminal justice, mental health and human services. Reform of the state levy system is needed, but he said a levy swap would only provide about $1 billion of what is estimated to be a $3.5 billion need to fund education. Palumbo favors ended some of the 695 tax exemptions on the books, and dedicating future growth to education.

On transportation issues, Palumbo says there are bottlenecks to fix, not only on I-405, but on Highways 9 and 522. Palumbo already has helped with improvements on Highway 522; as part of a community group he helped convinced the Legislature to provide $10 million for improvements.

Both Wirth and Palumbo would be collaborative lawmakers, guided by reason, but Palumbo offers a resume with more practical experience. There remain divisions among Democrats who were split between Palumbo and Moscoso, an able and respected legislator who we endorsed in the primary. Weighing his experience and his positions, we have no reservations about supporting Palumbo.

10th Legislative District, Senate

The 10th Legislative District encompasses all of Whidbey Island, Camano Island and their cities, as well as parts of south Skagit and north Snohomish counties, including the cities of Mount Vernon, La Conner and Stanwood.

The candidates for the 10th District’s Senate seat — Democrat Angie Homola and incumbent Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey, have followed very similar paths. Both are Oak Harbor residents, are married to Navy men and got involved in politics through land use issues on Whidbey Island.

Homola, who has a small architectural design business, has previously served a term an Island County commissioner from 2009-2012 and worked as a building inspector for the county’s planning department. Homola said she would use that experience in addressing issues of environment, growth and transportation. She also would seek to be active in veterans issues.

Homola has concerns that lawmakers will look to cut funding for social and other programs as they attempt to fix education funding. She is supportive of closing tax loopholes and wants to find other sustainable funding sources.

Bailey, who runs a management consulting firm, is completing her first term in the Senate after 10 years in the House.

A leader in the Senate’s Majority Coalition, Bailey can point to the Legislature’s recent efforts to increase K-12 education funding and believes lawmakers will make progress next session without creating a huge burden for taxpayers.

Chairwoman of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee, Bailey was the chief sponsor of legislation that reduced tuition for the state’s college students. Bailey has been the primary sponsor of a number of bills, including legislation on water rights in Skagit County, a veterans assistance fund, state pensions and creation of an aerospace training program at Everett Community College.

While the Legislature’s current partisan split — Democrats controlling the House and the Republican-led Majority Coalition leading the Senate — has been contentious, Bailey holds that the divided government has contributed to progress on education, transportation and other issues.

While the progress has been maddeningly slow at times, we agree with Bailey’s assessment, and see her leadership as contributing to those successes. Bailey deserves a second term in the Senate.

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