Editorial: Sells, Wicks, Robinson for 38th Legislative Dist.

Rep. Mike Sells has provided strong leadership on education and workplace issues.

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By The Herald Editorial Board

The retirement in April of state Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip — after a career of more than ten years in the House and more than six years in the Senate — led to a reshuffling of two seats in the 38th Legislative District, which includes north and central Everett, parts of Marysville and the Tulalip Reservation.

Having served in the House since 2014, June Robinson, D-Everett, was appointed to McCoy’s Senate seat; as she was to McCoy’s House seat when he was appointed to his Senate post in 2013. In turn, Robinson’s vacancy in the House was filled this year with the appointment of Emily Wicks, an Everett Democrat.

Prior to the primary, the editorial board endorsed Robinson and Wicks.

House, Position 2

For Position 2, incumbent Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, is challenged by David Wiley of the Libertarian Party.

Sells, a former teacher and teachers union official in the Everett School District, has served in the House since the 2005 legislative session and is now the district’s most veteran legislator.

Wiley is a 12-year resident of Snohomish County and is employed as a quality assurance employee in the biomedical industry and previously served the same role in aerospace. A single father of three, Wiley has experienced homelessness, which has informed his campaign’s focus on issues of housing, as well as justice and court reform and the economy.

Wiley, in a joint interview with the editorial board, said he supports reforms that would make it easier for builders to increase the stock of low-income housing and limit rent costs. Regarding the Legislature’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Wiley said lawmakers should have already been called into a special session to start work on efforts to address a revenue shortage in the budget and restart the economy. “The economy is doing badly,” he said, “because people aren’t making money.”

On the budget, Wiley is more supportive of making necessary but careful cuts to spending and less regarding new revenue, specifically income or payroll taxes, preferring to consider taxes and fees linked to consumption.

Sells is supportive of a special session but believes it will have to wait until after the election. On addressing the economic downturn’s revenue reduction — now about half of what was first estimated — Sells said the solution will have to be a mix of cuts and new revenue, but he would seek to protect recent improvements in social and health services spending. On taxes, Sells would consider a capital gains tax, but would be opposed to any increase in property taxes.

On increasing the stock of housing, Sells supports continued work with the housing construction industry and housing support groups and encouraging increased density in urban areas through changes in zoning.

Throughout his time in the House, Sells has been an advocate for the complementary economic issues of transportation, education, workforce training, worker safety and unemployment, and has been influential as chairman of the House committee on Labor and Workplace Standards. In the last two sessions, he was the primary sponsor on 15 bills, most of which remain in process but at least two of which became law.

As industry, school districts and local governments continue work on issues related to education, worker training and certification and support for local employers, Sells’ continued leadership and experience on these issues remains in demand. Voters should keep Sells on the job.

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.

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.

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.

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, and Bert Johnson, a Republican, who owns a small automotive business and has also worked in event management and promotion, were the top two candidates following the primary election.

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.

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 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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