By The Herald Editorial Board
Washington state’s 1st Legislative District is seeing notable changes following redistricting, adding cities and neighborhoods south of the Snohomish and King county border, including Kenmore, Woodinville and Lake Forest Park, but losing parts of Snohomish County in Mountlake Terrace, North Creek, Clearview and Cathcart, while adding areas along I-405 north to I-5.
Voters in the redrawn district have two state House races to determine this election.
Legislative District 1, Pos. 1
Incumbent Rep. Davina Duerr, D-Bothell, is challenged by John Peeples, R-Kenmore. Both met with the editorial board.
Duerr, a Bothell City Council member and an architect, was selected to fill a vacancy in July 2019, when then-Rep. Derek Stanford was selected to fill a vacancy in the state Senate. Duerr then won election to her seat in 2020.
Peeples, who has worked as an engineer for Cessna and at Boeing for the last 15 years locally, previously ran unsuccessfully for the Seattle City Council in 2019 and for a state House seat in the 43rd Legislative District in 2018.
Peeples called himself a “big fan of smaller government and bigger citizens because I trust the people more.” He is supportive of efforts to increase voter turnout, but wants to see the state’s election system return to voting at polling places rather than mail-in ballots. “Face-to-face” voting among neighbors and poll workers provides the most reliable results, he said.
Peeples also noted his opposition to abortion, but doesn’t believe the state, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, will or should address the issue in the short term, except to increase support for families to discourage abortions. But ultimately he said he would like to see “legal framework” that would restrict abortion in the state.
While Gov. Jay Inslee has said he plans to end his emergency declaration regarding the covid-19 pandemic by late October, Peeples believes the Legislature should have taken action to review and end those orders much sooner. The governor’s emergency powers should be limited, he said, to 30 days, with the Legislature’s option to meet and extend those orders if necessary. As well, he believes that restitution is due state employees who lost jobs because of the state’s vaccine mandate.
Peeples backs his positions with reason and demonstrates respect for all involved in policy issues, regardless of their opinions, but redistricting has given him a strong opponent in Duerr, who has put together an impressive record in the last three sessions.
Duerr counts her involvement in regional issues, in particular transportation, as the reason for running for the Bothell council and now her service in the House. Duerr is vice chair of committees on local government, and environment and energy and also serves on the transportation committee. Most of Duerr’s policy work has focused on the environment and local government, including primary sponsorship of five bills this session that were signed into law..
Among that successful legislation was Duerr’s bill to address the methane gas emitted at municipal landfills, which will monitor and encourage treatment of methane with the potential to collect and use the potent greenhouse gas to generate heat or electricity or convert into natural gas. Another of her bills added climate change as a consideration to the Growth Management Act, requiring local government to batter plan for climate resiliency and limiting development in flood plains or areas susceptible to wildfire.
On transportation issues, Duerr supports the package adopted this year, because it was “value-based,” rather than focused on pet projects, as well it resolved some of the state’s biggest concerns. Even so, she said, work remains to increase funding for basic maintenance and preservation work for roads and bridges.
Regarding potential legislation to reform the state’s package of taxes, Duerr said she’s most interested in seeing changes that move Washington “out of last place in terms of having the most regressive tax system.” Noting the wealth in the state and its strong business position, Duerr said state lawmakers are in a good position to make some effective reforms on the state’s businesses taxes and the property tax.
Now that the covid pandemic has largely passed and a new city manager has been hired, Duerr has stepped down from the Bothell City Council, to concentrate more on the Legislature.
Yet, even with that double duty, Duerr has shown herself as a productive lawmaker and a leader in the House, particularly on issues of importance to residents in her district. Duerr’s performance in her first three sessions has earned her reelection to a second full term.
Legislative District 1, Pos. 2
Incumbent Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kenmore, is challenged by Jerry Buccola, R-Kenmore. Both met with the editorial board.
Kloba, once redistricting maps had been adopted, learned that her Kirkland residence had been moved into the 45th district. To remain eligible for her 1st district seat, she moved into the new 1st district, initially renting an apartment in Bothell and more recently purchasing a home in Kenmore, an experience, she said, that provided some additional insight into housing issues faced by many in the region.
Kloba, a former Kirkland City Council member and the former legislative director for the state PTA is running for a fourth term. She is chair of the commerce and gaming committee and serves on the committees for capital budget and rural development, agriculture and natural resources.
Buccola, a real estate broker, ran for the state House in the 46th district in 2018.
Buccola is running, he said, to show opposition to the state Legislature’s Democratic Party control: “I’m here to state the opinion that we need less control, less government, lower taxes and more liberty.”
He is critical of the legislative efforts regarding the limits to police pursuits, and sees it as one of the causes behind a wave of officers retiring early or leaving the state. Police, he said, know the philosophy of the Legislature, and that is hampering the performance of their jobs.
He is also critical of recent legislation regarding limits on firearms, which has chipped away at the right to protect individual safety and property. Buccola, however, said he would not seek repeal of firearms restrictions adopted by citizen initiative.
He did not make the same allowance regarding abortion, saying he would support restrictions to access in the short term and the outlaw of abortion in the next 10 years, despite the 1991 public initiative, I-120, that codified the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
Buccola also said he was flabbergasted by the governor’s emergency orders in 2020 at the start of the covid-19 pandemic, accusing Gov. Inslee of using the pandemic as a cover for an expansion of his authority, shutting down the state and limiting the right of people to worship or assemble. The Legislature should have put limits on the government’s emergency powers, he said.
On the state’s recent work on law enforcement policies, Kloba said there was urging from the public to address issues of the use of force by police and additional accountability was necessary. It’s part of the legislative process, Kloba said, to review legislation once it’s in place to judge if it’s working as intended. Some of that work was done last year, with adjustments made, but additional work is necessary, at least to correct the perception among some that police can’t pursue those who flee when they attempt a traffic stop.
Kloba also pointed to the increase in funding for police academics to address the shortage of applicants that some local police departments and sheriff’s office are experiencing. Kloba also said she has had conversations with Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, about setting up regional training academies.
Regarding abortion, Kloba said Washington state and its medical providers will need to prepare for an influx of women from other states where abortion has been limited or outlawed, including training of medical professionals to meet those needs.
Regarding a legislative review of state tax policy, Kloba says lawmakers will need to commit to some systemic reforms that do more than nibble around the edges and instead delivers a package of taxes that is fair, equitable, sustainable, adequate and can ride out economic ups and downs. Specifically, she said she would like to see reform of the B&O tax and an expansion of the working families tax credit that would lift the burden on low- and middle-income families.
Kloba said in coming sessions she intends to work on issues of data privacy, home affordability, homelessness, gun violence, fixing the tax code, increasing opportunities to working families and assuring access to health care, including behavioral and reproductive health.
Kloba has a solid record of legislative accomplishment, including passage this year of bills addressing quality standards for laboratories testing cannabis for the state’s retail marijuana industry and increasing the term of leases of state land for commercial, industrial and business purposes to 99 years, from the previous limit of 55 years, but setting periodic reviews of rental payments and other lease terms.
Kloba has also proposed legislation that, with a longer session coming next year, deserves consideration by lawmakers, including a charter guaranteeing people’s rights to control how their personal data is used, and a proposal to give local governments options to provide rent relief and promote affordable housing.
Kloba’s record of effectiveness and background knowledge on issues of education, data technology, housing and taxes makes a strong statement for her reelection, as does her willingness to relocate her home to continue to serve.
The League of Women Voters of Snohomish County has scheduled upcoming candidate forums, available live on YouTube at www.youtube.com/lwvsnohomishcounty:
LD 44, Senate and House, 5 and 6:30 p.m., Sept. 29
Snohomish County Prosecutor, 6:30 p.m., Oct. 5,
See earlier record forums for other races at lwvsnoho.org.
Correction: The above editorial has been corrected to reflect that Davina Duerr has already stepped down from the Bothell City Council.