Editorial: Retain Ryu, Davis in 32nd LD for state House

Both incumbents have worked to pass legislation helpful to those in their district and the state.

Cindy Ryu

Cindy Ryu

By The Herald Editorial Board Continuing with the editorial board’s endorsements for the primary election:

32nd Legislative District

The 32nd District includes communities in south Snohomish and north King counties, including parts of the cities of Lynnwood, Edmonds, Woodway and Shoreline. The district’s House races each drew three candidates, meaning the primary election will determine the top two candidates for the Nov. 3 general election.

House, Position 1

A ten-year veteran of the House, Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, is seeking her sixth two-year term. Ryu, who emigrated from South Korea as a child, previously served on the Shoreline City Council, including time as mayor.

Ryu drew two fellow Democrats as challengers.

Keith Smith, who challenged Ryu in 2018 for the seat, said his experience as a grocery worker have informed his concerns for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic, believing businesses need to be better held accountable for the safety and health of their employees. Smith has lived in the district for 20 years. Smith also cited concerns about the delay in distributing benefits for unemployed workers, pledging to work for reforms to the system.

Shirley Sutton, who has previously served on the Lynnwood City Council, has worked in executive positions for Edmonds Community College, Yakima Community College and the Yakima School district, with responsibilities for diversity affairs, adult education, homeless programs and labor relations. The Herald was not able to contact Sutton for an interview. In the voters guide, Sutton said she would be an advocate for affordable housing, public schools, small businesses and health care access.

With the state facing an economic downturn and significant revenue losses to the state budget, Smith said he supports reforms to the state’s tax package, including consideration of an income tax. He’s concerned about deep cuts to the state budget, because of the drag they would cause on the economy and their effects on needed services.

Ryu, hopeful for a relatively quick economic recovery, agreed that deep cuts need to be avoided and that new revenue will need to come from taxes, but she would like to see “sunsets” placed that would roll new taxes back as the economy improves.

Ryu said she disagrees with the delay by the governor and others in calling a special session to begin dealing with the pandemic’s impacts.

Ryu serves as chairwoman of the House committee on housing, community development and veterans issues and also is a member of the appropriations and consumer protection and business committees. Her responsibilities in the House are reflected in legislation she has sponsored in the last two sessions. Among bills for which she is the primary sponsor, Ryu has addressed issues of affordable housing, protections for mobile home communities, better administration of the senior property tax exemption and an enacted law that clarified requirements for short-term home rentals.

Ryu, during her tenure, has been a reliable advocate for small businesses, public education and affordable housing and deserves the sixth term she seeks.

Lauren Davis

Lauren Davis

House, Position 2

Incumbent Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Lynnwood, is completing her first two-year term in the House. She is founder and executive director of the Washington Recovery Alliance, focused on issues of mental health and addiction.

Davis is challenged by:

Gray Petersen is an internet technician for Ziply Fiber, formerly Frontier, and previously served as a shop steward for the IBEW union local. Petersen said he is running to provide a voice to what he says is the district’s progressive majority. The pandemic, he said, has exposed cracks in equity for working families, and he supports efforts for single-payer health care, progressive tax reform and continued assistance and protections for low-income renters and others.

Tamra Smilanich, running as a nonpartisan, is a small business owner, and a seasonal contractor for public and private schools. Smilanich did not respond to emails seeking an interview.

Petersen, who said he had friends recently demonstrating in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, supports calls for reforms to law enforcement policies and budgets, as well as the resignation of Seattle’s mayor. Petersen said he would like to see an end to the policy of “qualified immunity,” which can shield government officials and law enforcement officers from being held personally liable for constitutional violations.

Petersen also was critical of the delay in calling a special session to deal not only with state budget concerns, but also the pandemic response and issues related to protests regarding use of force by police.

Davis also said she would have preferred for the Legislature to have been called into special session to begin work on the budget and other issues. She said the state’s budget crisis will need to include new tax revenue and cuts, but said those cuts can’t repeat past mistakes that resulted in the lawsuits over K-12 school funding and mental health services.

Davis, who is vice chairwoman of the Public Safety committee, said she wants to address law enforcement reforms. In response to calls to “defund the police” or start from scratch on law enforcement budgets, Davis said she’ll seek to promote better ways of delivering needed services and responding to calls related to addiction, mental health and homelessness.

Davis, in considering the range of issues that the Legislature will address, admitted many issues “can’t be fixed in one term.” Even so, Davis in her first term took on a number of challenges.

Even before her first term, Davis shepherded “Ricky’s Law” through the Legislature in 2016, which has provided a process for involuntary treatment of those with substance abuse disorders.

In last two years, she quickly followed that as primary sponsor for several bills, many that became law, regarding substance abuse, mental health, the child welfare system, community supervision, consumer protections under the federal Affordable Care Act, and creation of a registry of approved substance-abuse recovery residences to better deliver those services.

Davis considers herself a progressive, but one who has been pragmatic in her pursuit of policy. She said she’s made a point of listening and working with House Republicans on legislation, efforts that helped win passage in the House but also won support from enough Republicans in the Senate to avoid too-slim majorities.

Davis, who succeeded the 20-year career of Rep. Ruth Kagi, has shown herself as a capable and consensus-building lawmaker. Voters can confidently return Davis to her responsibilities.

Clarification: The editorial has been edited to more accurately reflect Rep. Lauren Davis’ response regarding calls to defund law enforcement.

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