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Editorial: Reelect Ryu, Davis to House in 32nd District

The two detail-oriented lawmakers should continue work on issues they’ve been entrusted to lead.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Unlike many of Snohomish County’s legislative districts, the 32nd Legislative District saw only minor changes to its boundaries in the redistricting process. The district, serving Lynnwood, parts of Mountlake Terrace, Woodway and Shoreline, lost some neighborhoods east of Lynnwood, but gained more of Mountlake Terrace.

32nd LD, Senate

Prior to the primary election, the editorial board endorsed Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, for re-election to a second term.

32nd LD, House, Pos. 1

Incumbent Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, is seeking election to a seventh term in the House. She is challenged by Lori Theis of Shoreline, affiliated with the Election Integrity Party. Theis did not respond to email requests to participate in an interview.

Ryu, who emigrated with family from South Korea as a child, previously served on the Shoreline City Council, including time as mayor. She is an insurance agent and small business owner.

A recognition of her tenure in the House, Ryu recently was elevated to chair of the Community and Economic Development Committee, and plans to add technology issues to its oversight, she said. She also serves on committees for appropriations and consumer protection and business.

Ryu was primary sponsor for a slate of successful legislation, most of it with bipartisan support, in her most recent term, including providing more authority to state-chartered smaller credit unions; extension of a fund for prosecution of mortgage lending fraud; the extension of eligibility of affordable housing and behavioral-health housing from local sales tax for housing; and legislation intended to curb an increase in thefts of vehicles’ catalytic converters, by requiring more documentation for the vehicle parts’ sales to scrap dealers and establishing a work group on the issue. Work remains on that issue, Ryu said, to set up funding for the work group, which will look at additional options for reducing the thefts, which have seen a significant increase in recent years. That work is important, Ryu said, because effective methods for reducing thefts, reported nationwide, could be adopted by other states as well as by Congress.

Ryu also said she would be working with fellow representatives on funding and supports for women’s health care, especially with the state expected to see as much as a four-fold increase in demand for care as more women come to Washington state from states that have banned or significantly limited abortion.

On tax issues, Ryu said she’s eager to review proposals from a legislative work group looking at potential reforms to the state’s tax system, including elimination or reforms to the business and occupation tax. And she notes that while she will face increased taxes, herself, because of it, she supports the capital gains tax that is now under review by the state Supreme Court.

Ryu’s track record as a representative has shown her as detail-oriented and someone who pays attention to potential unintended consequences in legislation. Voters should return Ryu to the House for another two years.

32nd LD, House, Pos. 2

Incumbent Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Lynnwood, is seeking a third term in the House. Davis is challenged by Anthony Hubbard, a Republican. Hubbard did not respond to emails requesting an interview.

Davis is founder and executive director of the Washington Recovery Alliance, focused on issues of behavioral health and addiction, issues on which she has concentrated most of her legislative work.

Davis, in an interview last month, said she ran four years ago out of a desire to win reforms of the state’s behavioral health system, calling herself “an octopus in behavioral health, with her tentacles in just about anything involving behavioral health.”

Even before joining the House, Davis successfully advocated for legislation, dubbed “Ricky’s Law” for a friend she helped get into treatment, which provides a process for involuntary treatment of those with substance use disorders.

One bill for which Davis was the primary sponsor and passed the House this year but did not advance in the Senate, would have addressed the shortage of behavioral health workers by establishing a program of certified peer specialists, trained through an 80-hour education course.

Davis has other bills that deserve renewed consideration, including improvements to delivery of substance use disorder treatment, and funding for treatment programs through the elimination of a B&O tax exemption provided to businesses that warehouse and resell prescription drugs. Davis also plans to again propose legislation that addresses the sale of products containing marijuana concentrates, limiting their sale to those 25 and older and also limiting the THC concentration of marijuana products.

The reforms Davis is seeking, she said, are a “generational job” that will require more than her last four years of work. There have been notable and important reforms and investments, she said, including the state’s funding of the 988 crisis line and programs for response, which she helped develop.

Davis also intends a focus on domestic violence. She successfully advocated for funding for support for victims of domestic violence and now wants to back more legislation on DV policy and budget support. She’s developing with colleagues a package of legislation that will address domestic violence homicide, looking for ways to track behaviors that indicate a likelihood of violence.

“Domestic violence is the most predictable form of homicide, because those homicides follow very predictable patterns, and there’s ample opportunity to intercede and intervene,” she said.

Davis was also a leader in development of a response to the state Supreme Court’s Blake decision, which effectively decriminalized drug possession. And while some city officials and law enforcement agencies have criticized that response for frustrating efforts to persuade those found to be in possession of drugs to seek treatment, Davis defends the legislation and urges continued development of its program of “recovery navigators,” for which lawmakers made an initial investment this session.

Davis has heard the complaints that the Legislature’s response to Blake removed a “carrot and stick” approach that allowed police to offer a choice between jail and treatment, but that choice really never existed, she said. Police could arrest and jail someone, she said, but courts can’t constitutionally hold anyone for possession. As a result, only 3 percent of those arrested chose “drug court” as an alternative to prosecution.

Continued and additional funding of the recovery navigator program, which has yet to be launched in Snohomish County, can get treatment to the estimated 80 percent to 90 percent who do want treatment, she said.

With further discussion likely on the state’s response to Blake, Davis’ perspective and commitment for effective solutions is imperative. Voters should keep Davis’ tentacles working in all aspects of behavioral health.

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