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Editorial: Shavers in 10th, Cortes in 38th House districts

The editorial board begins its endorsements with two state House races in newly redrawn districts.

By The Herald Editorial Board

The editorial board launches its slate of endorsements for the Nov. 8 general election with two legislative races in the 10th and 38th legislative districts, each which has seen changes to its boundaries, and for the 38th, open races for the two House seats, following the decision of the two incumbents, Reps. Mike Sells and Emily Wicks, both Everett Democrats, not to seek reelection.

10th Legislative District, Position 1: As with nearly all legislative and congressional districts following the state’s redistricting, the 10th district saw notable changes, particularly for residents in north Snohomish County. While keeping both Whidbey and Camano islands, the district has added much of the city of Arlington, while communities north of Arlington and east of I-5 are now part of the 39th District.

First-term incumbent Rep. Greg Gilday, R-Camano Island, is challenged by Clyde Shavers, an Oak Harbor resident running as a Democrat.

Gilday is an attorney and real estate broker, who earned his law degree from Seattle University in 2005. Gilday has served previously on the boards of Stanwood’s Safe Harbor Free Clinic and the Stanwood Camano Food Bank.

Gilday, in his first two years in the House, doesn’t have a long list of legislation on his record, but the bills sponsored and co-sponsored show support for bipartisan efforts. Gilday has sponsored two bills, one that would have qualified prosthetics and orthotics for insurance coverage and a second that would have added a requirement for email notification between landlords and tenants, both with bipartisan support. Neither advanced, but the second passed with a bipartisan majority out of the committee on Housing, Human Services and Veterans, for which he is the ranking minority member.

Gilday, as he did two years ago, sees housing as a major issue for the Legislature to address, noting the current estimated need for at least 250,000 units as a major reason for the inflated cost of housing. Addressing that lack of supply will take a number of steps, but among the most important will be making it more affordable and predictable to build housing, he said, including working to curb regulation, zoning and fees that discourage construction. Legislation he co-sponsored but that did not advance, would have provided tax incentives to local governments to increase housing density near transit lines.

On recent law enforcement legislation, Gilday noted there have been adjustments made to earlier legislation, but work remains, including a reconsideration of limits on police pursuits that some believe have led to instances where drivers have fled scenes and refused to stop for police.

Gilday also said legislation that decriminalized drug possession needs to be reconsidered to give police the authority to use the threat of arrest to move those with addictions into treatment. But that also has to be joined with an increase in availability of treatment beds, he said.

Gilday opposes the capital gains tax adopted by the Legislature and now under review by the state Supreme Court. As well, a legislative working group is looking at potential changes to the state’s package of taxes, but wonders if recommendations are adopted whether lawmakers in future sessions can avoid inching taxes up again after reductions.

Shavers, whose father was in the Marines and recently retired from law enforcement, graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, served eight years in the Navy on a nuclear sub and in public affairs and continues in the reserves. A graduate of Yale Law School in environmental law, he has worked with an environmental group, but also has worked with the state Democratic Party on election issues.

Shavers also wants to pursue issues of affordable housing and has background as a member of a Goosefoot, building affordable housing on South Whidbey and a board member for Skagit Friendship House, a shelter and supportive housing organization in Mount Vernon. Shavers says housing solutions need to concentrate efforts in urban areas while preserving rural areas and protecting farmland, a significant concern in the district.

Noting other family members in law enforcement, Shavers considered some legislation regarding public safety and police tactics as too hastily considered and wants to see additional support and resources provided to police agencies, but in a more targeted, effective manner, such as providing agencies access to mental health counselors and social workers to aid their work.

Drawing on his background in environmental law, Shavers said he hopes to work with the district’s tribes and farmers regarding habitat for salmon and water management. Neither group is talking much, he said, and he wants to work with both on shared goals of habitat and water resources. Legislation this year to increase salmon habitat buffers on farmland failed because those groups weren’t jointly consulted, he said. What was called the Lorraine Loomis bill started the conversation, but that exchange needs to continue in a more collaborative way, Shavers said.

As the Legislature looks at potential changes to the state’s package of taxes, Shavers said he was not interested in finding ways to raise additional revenue but in how taxes can be made more fair and less regressive, providing tax relief to lower- and middle-class families.

The 10th district would be well served with the election of either Gilday or Shavers. Both demonstrated detailed knowledge on issues and concerns and a commitment to working for solutions.

Having earlier shown a dedication in serving his community, Gilday’s first term has demonstrated he can work collaboratively with Democrats as well as those within his own party.

Shavers, however, showed enthusiasm for bringing sometimes disparate groups together to find solutions that benefit all involved, as well as a willingness to challenge his own party on some of its legislative proposals. Given the choice of two strong candidates, voters can back Shavers with confidence.

10th Legislative District, Position 2: Prior to the primary election, the editorial board endorsed the re-election of Rep. Dave Paul, D-Oak Harbor, over challenger Karen Lesetmoe, a first-time Republican candidate from Oak Harbor.

Paul’s work within his district on educational and law enforcement issues is representative of his hands-on community-based approach. Paired with his sponsorship of legislation, Paul has proved himself well-suited and valuable to his district as well as the House.

38th Legislative District, Position 1: Boundaries for the 38th Legislative District also have shifted with redistricting. The 38th Legislative District lost neighborhoods east of Lake Goodwin and in south Everett, but gained neighborhoods between Marysville and Lake Stevens.

Prior to the primary, the editorial board endorsed Daryl Williams, a Marysville Democrat and Tulalip tribal member. Williams finished third among four candidates, with Democrat Julio Cortes and Republican Gary Kemp advancing to the general election ballot.

The editorial board now recommends Cortes to voters in the district.

Kemp, a Marysville resident, in an interview this spring, told the board his focus would be on public safety, housing and homelessness issues. Criminals, he said, have been emboldened by the perception they can flee and not be pursued by police, which calls for a reexamination of recent changes to police pursuit limits. Public safety also has been compromised, he said, by drug addiction and homelessness. Kemp supports the pairing of social workers and police patrols. On affordable housing, Kemp would support reforms to the Growth Management Act that he believes has made it difficult to provide a range and stock of housing that would ease prices.

Cortes, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico with his family when he was 5, grew up in Wapato, Wash. Time spent picking fruit motivated him to get a college education, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations in 2009.

After college, Cortes started work with Everett’s Cocoon House, which provides shelter and counseling to homeless and at-risk youths and young adults. Initially, he worked as a bilingual and bi-cultural advocate and later in public relations for the nonprofit, including testifying on legislation in Olympia and talking with state lawmakers. For the last five years, he’s served in communications and public relations with the Everett mayor’s office and in the city’s economic development department, working to attract businesses and promote tourism.

In an interview this spring, Cortes said his initial emphasis in the Legislature would be on the issues of affordable housing and homelessness as well as public safety. Noting the continuing work of nonprofits and others to aid those suffering from homelessness, Cortes said he wants a greater investigation into homelessness’ economic and others causes to help build wrap-around services for lower- and middle-income individuals and families that can “turn off the tap” of circumstances that threaten loss of housing.

Working with the city, Cortes often hears concerns about public safety from residents, and has worked with and is supportive of the city’s police department. He said he wants to make sure law enforcement has the resources necessary to address crime and public safety needs, but also wants to ensure police departments reflect the communities they serve. Cortes said he’d like to see an increase in implicit bias training and in de-escalation techniques beyond the current requirements.

Cortes also sees a need to review recent legislation regarding drug possession, following conversations with police, residents and the mayor on the increase of open drug use. That open drug use, Cortes said, “when officers aren’t able to really do anything about it, it’s not helping anybody. It’s not helping the individual using drugs; it’s not helping the officers, or the business owners or community members who have to walk by this stuff all the time.”

Cortes also expressed interest in addressing the state’s package of taxes to address its regresiveness, while assuring more equitable funding for school districts, particularly in rural areas, such as what he experienced attending schools in Wapato, recognized as one of the state’s poorest regions.

Cortes should be able to draw on his work within a diverse community that will help serve his district and its communities while broadening its representation.

38th Legislative District, Position 2: Prior to the primary election, the editorial board endorsed Marysville Republican Mark James, who currently serves on the Marysville City Council. James faces Everett City Council member Mary Fosse, who is running as a Democrat.

James’ tenure and demeanor on Marysville’s council, his community work and his commitment to training in municipal service would serve district constituents.

James is among the county’s more moderate members of the GOP and could provide a better balanced voice for district residents, especially if Democrats continue to hold majorities in both chambers.

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