Editorial: Robinson, Wicks best for 38th Senate, House races

The Herald endorses: Following appointments, both have the experience to serve constituents well.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Continuing with the board’s endorsements for the Aug. 4 primary election:

38th Legislative District

The 38th Legislative District includes north and central Everett, parts of Marysville and the Tulalip Reservation.

Following the retirement in April of Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip — after a career of more than ten years in the House and more than six years in the Senate — Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, was appointed to McCoy’s seat; as she was to McCoy’s House seat when he was appointed to his Senate in 2013. In turn, Robinson’s vacancy in the House was filled by the appointment of Emily Wicks, an Everett Democrat.

The primary election will determine the top two candidates for the general election for the two years remaining for the Senate seat and for Position 1’s two-year term in the House. For Position 2, incumbent Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, is challenged by David Wiley of the Libertarian Party. An endorsement in that race will follow prior to the Nov. 3 general election.

Senate

Currently employed by the Snohomish Health District, June Robinson’s professional experience includes work with public health agencies here and in Seattle and King County. She also is former executive director of the Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County and former director of planning and program management for Community Health Center of Snohomish County. Robinson has a master’s degree in public health.

Robinson’s challengers are making their first runs for public office.

Kelly Fox, a Democrat, is executive director of Snohomish County Emergency Management System and has worked for Renton Fire and Emergency Services, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle City Light. Fox has a master’s degree in social work.

Bernard Moody, a Republican, is a sergeant with Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, has been active with employee unions and served with the U.S. Marines. Moody’s education includes study in criminal justice and corrections.

The professional backgrounds of Fox and Moody would offer valuable perspectives to the Legislature’s work. Among Fox’s concerns are the needs of the EMS system in the county and state, including inequitable funding among fire and EMS districts. She advocates for standardized county-wide EMS training system.

Moody’s more than 30 years work in corrections provides background regarding recent discussions over public safety funding and law enforcement reforms. While Moody said he’s supportive of efforts to ensure accountability and transparency, he sees a need to address the needs of officers, specifically their mental health and a high rate of suicide.

Robinson, during her tenure in the House, has provided strong support for public health and affordable housing efforts. Even before the full weight of the coronavirus pandemic was clear this spring, Robinson was prime sponsor of successful legislation that improved the funding and distribution for county and tribal-level public health agencies.

Robinson also could bring to the Senate valuable background regarding the state budget. She served as vice-chairwoman on the House appropriations committee, and said she would seek appointment to the Senate’s budget team. Robinson was blunt about the challenge lawmakers face in addressing an immediate revenue shortfall of more than $4.3 billion, even before tackling the next two-year budget. Some cuts, although there are limited areas available for reduction, will be necessary, she said, but Robinson also wants to consider a range of new revenue, including a long-discussed capital gains tax; a tax on high-earners paid by employers, luxury taxes and adjustments to “sin” taxes, such as cannabis.

As she was seven years ago when appointed to succeed McCoy in the House, Robinson was the right choice to follow him in the Senate. Voters can affirm that appointment with confidence.

House, Position 1

Emily Wicks, who owns a consulting business working with nonprofits and small businesses, has three challengers in the primary:

Bert Johnson, a Republican, owns a small automotive business and has also worked in event management and promotion. Johnson ran in 2016 against Rep. Sells and in 2018 against Robinson.

Jorge Garrido, a Libertarian, is a first-generation Cuban-American, who has lived in the county for 10 years. He is employed by Boeing as an aviation maintenance technician and field inspector, having worked in the industry for more than 15 years.

Lacey Sauvageau, a Democrat, is a 911 dispatcher with the county, who has volunteered with the Lynnwood Police Citizens Patrol and serves on its board. Sauvageau did not respond to invitations to participate in a joint interview with the other candidates.

As he has in past campaigns, Johnson has promised a focus on expansion of vocational education opportunities, but also said he would seek more attention to transportation spending and ways to reduce congestion; efforts to clean up homelessness and drug abuse; and tax reduction.

Garrido said he wants to add his voice as a Hispanic-American and represent the state’s Latino community, while challenging Democrats’ unchecked power in the House. Regarding the debate over law enforcement reforms and funding, Garrido said he could offer needed perspective as someone who has family and friends both in law enforcement and among those protesting.

Wicks has not served in public office before, but along with a degree in public relations and political science, she has past policy and political experience that would serve her work in the Legislature. Wicks was deputy finance director for Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2012 campaign for governor; and worked as a legislative aide for Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib when he served in the House. Wicks also is president of the state’s chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus.

While the Legislature has yet to be called into session, Wicks has participated in lawmakers’ online discussions regarding transportation and the state budget. Wicks said lawmakers were careful to build up the state’s “rainy day” fund for events such as the pandemic, which paired with closing tax loopholes and revenue from a capital gains tax should head off harmful cuts that would cost the state far more down the road.

Wicks demonstrated detailed understanding of many of the issues lawmakers will need to confront if a special session is called before the end of the year and in the coming two years.

As Robinson proved an able successor to McCoy, Wicks justifies her appointment to follow Robinson and the support of the district’s voters.

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