State Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, is an institution builder. His signature legacy, WSU/Everett, is a doozy, a center of higher ed that will shape north Puget Sound’s economic and educational landscape for generations to come. There’s the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center at Paine Field, a workforce pipeline to the aerospace sector which opened in 2010. Both were collective efforts — success has a thousand fathers — with leadership from Rep. Hans Dunshee and Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson. But Sells shepherded legislation in a workhorse-style characteristic of the people of the 38th legislative district. He has a Garrison Keillor M.O.: Work hard, remember who you represent, and avoid showing off.
Sells, who chairs the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, deserves re-election to a sixth term.
A former elementary school teacher, Sells has a visceral understanding of the state’s K-12 needs, a helpful grounding to navigate the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision and its recent contempt ruling. He acknowledges the revenue challenge of ferreting out $2 billion. Sells supports Rep. Reuven Carlyle’s effort to revisit and scrub tax giveaways that drain state coffers, but he also observes that won’t be enough. Whacking higher ed and human services is a route he’d like to avoid, which means taxes (hopefully not a hike to the state’s regressive sales tax) need to be on the table.
An advocate of a transportation-finance package, Sells gets an earful from constituents, such as the need for a 4th Street off-ramp in Marysville (the 38th delegation has worked closely with Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring.)
Sells is opposed by a thoughtful Libertarian and former Republican, Eli Olson, who has run for office twice before. Olson, a career electrician and department manager, offers independent voters a choice. We encourage Olson to become more civically active.
For position 1, Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, appointed to replace John McCoy after McCoy moved to the Senate, has been a thoughtful lawmaker and vigorous advocate of the 38th, savoring the mechanics of policy. She holds a masters degree in public health, and previously led the Everett Housing Consortium before moving to King County Public Health. Robinson’s health and human services expertise injects needed perspective and leadership (she managed a bill that opened Medicaid funding to low-income tenants.) Her Republican challenger has not actively campaigned.
Robinson represents a vital, progressive voice, a welcome addition to an often fusty institution. She has earned election to a full, two-year term.