By The Herald Editorial Board
Watch your mailbox; ballots should arrive soon for the Aug. 2 primary election, which will determine the top-two candidates for the Nov. 8 general election.
‘The editorial board’s endorsements for the primary election continue today with two state House races in the newly redrawn 10th and 21st legislative districts, and will continue this week and next for races in the 32nd and 38th legislative districts and for the uncompleted term for secretary of state.
Previous endorsements include races in the 39th legislative district and Snohomish Public Utility District’s board of commissioners for District 3. Endorsements for races in which the general election ballot already is set will follow prior to Nov. 8.
In addition to these recommendations, voters also are directed to their local voters pamphlet — also mailed to registered voters — the state’s online voters guide and a series of recorded candidate forums available at the website of the Snohomish County League of Women Voters.
10th LD, House, Pos. 2
As with nearly all legislative and congressional districts following the state’s redistricting, the 10th district saw notable changes, particularly for residents in north Snohomish County. While keeping both Whidbey and Camano islands, the district has added much of the city of Arlington, while communities north of Arlington and east of I-5 are now part of the 39th District.
Incumbent Rep. Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, is seeking election to a third term, the sole Democrat among two Republicans in the district. Paul, an administrator at Skagit Valley College’s Mount Vernon campus and an American government teacher, has served on House committees for transportation and college and workforce development.
Paul is challenged by Karen Lesetmoe, a first-time Republican candidate from Oak Harbor. Lesetmoe did not respond to emails seeking her participation in a joint interview with the board. Initially a third candidate filed for the seat, but later withdrew from the race and will not appear on the ballot.
Paul’s career background in higher education and K-12 education issues directed his priorities in the last four years, he said, and even with recent accomplishments in programs and funding, specifically for Running Start and College in the High School, work remains. “We had thousands of students graduate high school and earn their associate’s degree on the same weekend,” Paul said. “And others graduating from universities two years later without student debt because of that two-year head start.”
Paul also sees work ahead on basic school funding issues not addressed by the McCleary reforms adopted last decade. While some districts have done well under the McCleary changes, other districts are facing drastic cuts after voters rejected district operation levies and capital bonds.
“On the capital (construction) side, the state is going to have to address this or there will be, I fear, some sort of McCleary type lawsuit,” Paul said, suggesting a system similar to that for construction at community colleges, where funding is determined through a statewide ranked list of proposed projects.
Regarding recent legislation that reformed law enforcement policies and procedures — and has been the subject of some public backlash amid a perceived increase in crime — Paul said for the last three years he has been talking with law enforcement officials in the three counties he serves regarding those reforms. Paul said he attempted to raise concerns for unintended consequences previously that sometimes fell on deaf ears among his Democratic colleagues.
Paul is working to pull together a roundtable discussion in September with state lawmakers in the three counties and representatives of law enforcement about what’s working and what needs to be addressed, including guidelines for police pursuits.
Paul’s work within his district on educational and law enforcement issues is representative of his hands-on community-based approach. Paired with his sponsorship of legislation, including an attempt to adopt a three-day sales-tax holiday in the last session, Paul has proved himself well-suited and valuable to his district as well as the House.
Paul more than warrants voters granting him a third term.
21st LD, House, Pos. 2
Among changes to its boundaries, the 21st district added neighborhoods in Mukilteo, near Paine Field and Edmonds, while neighborhoods near Silver Lake and elsewhere joined either the 1st, 32 or 44th districts.
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, is seeking reelection as she completes her fourth term in the House. Ortiz-Self is employed by the Everett School District as a mental health counselor and educator. Along with serving as majority caucus chair, Ortiz-Self is a member of committees on education; children, youth and families; labor and workplace standards and rules.
She is challenged by two Republicans.
Jenifer Short, of Edmonds, has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry and is a community activist and signature gatherer on initiatives regarding issues related to homeschooling, taxes and election integrity. Short participated in a a group call the Washington Voter Research Project that went door-to-door attempting to check the validity of voter registrations.
Petra Bigea, of Lynnwood, previously ran against Ortiz-Self in 2018. Bigea did not respond to emails seeking her participation in a joint candidate interview.
Short previously considered herself a Democrat and more recently served as a precinct officer for the Republican Party. “I have issues with some of the legislation passed by both parties, honestly, and that’s why I’m running. I just want good grass-roots people in the party to bring back some order” on issues regarding public safety, taxes and education, noting that she now home-schools her son.
Short is earnest in her concerns but appeared less informed on at least one specific legislative issue, volunteering, incorrectly, that the state gas tax was to have increased by “about a dollar” on July 1.
Ortiz-Self, a defender of public education and advocate for mental health resources for children, adults and seniors, has based much of her work in the Legislature on those issues, including class size and ensuring healthy conditions in classrooms. Recently she was the primary sponsor of successful legislation addressing those issues, as well as the rights of parents for visitation and the placement of children with relatives during child welfare reviews and protecting the rights of families when responding to reports of abuse or neglect of a child.
Regarding recent law-enforcement reforms, Ortiz-Self said she backs much of what has been accomplished as well as their adjustments, but is open to further work. “What I’m most proud of is that we entered into some tough, tough conversations that were way overdue. … Those conversations are going to continue.” she said, and that includes policies regarding police pursuits.
The key, Ortiz-Self said, is representing all constituents, not just a particular group. “I have to wrestle with how do I let the police do their job and how do I have every single member of the community be safe,” she said.
Over the her legislative career Ortiz-Self has risen as a leader in the House and effective in proposing legislation that serves the public.
Voters can return her for a fifth term with confidence.