Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek has held House position 2 in the 44th district since 1999, and is challenged this election by Republican Randy Nichols who drew a respectable 48 percent of the vote in the primary election.
“I’m a big fan of Randy’s. I hope he gets 48 percent next time,” Lovick said, referring to the upcoming general election on Nov. 5.
Both candidates have distinguished backgrounds in law enforcement.
Nichols is retired from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, and Lovick is a Washington State Patrol Sergeant. Nichols has 28 years in law enforcement and Lovick has 28 1/2. Nichols retired from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office two years ago, and since then has been driving a transit bus. He decided to run late in the filing period because, as a bus driver, “I didn’t feel I was using the gifts that God gave me.”
He said he was driving one day and decided “it was one of those things where I said ‘I have to try.”
Lovick said he is running to continue the job he started, adding that he respects the work Nichols has done as a law enforcement professional, and the work he has done as a political candidate.
He said having Nichols as a challenger has “certainly made me work harder.”
He said he is “one of those lawmakers who has not worked just in the 90 days” of the Legislative session. He is active in his community, and serves as a mentor through the Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County.
Nichols said if elected, his top issues would be the budget, transportation, roads and education.
As for what he would do to meet the needs of this year’s state budget, Nichols said he would start by looking at “what is mandated and what is not,” then prioritize based on need. After that, he said, he would look for efficiencies in state government.
Nichols criticized last year’s Legislative session when lawmakers used funds from the federal tobacco settlement, collecting 25 cents on the dollar for what that money was worth.
“The tobacco money was intended for health care costs (and) anti smoking” programs, and was supposed to last 25 years, Nichols said.
He echoed the Republican stance on budgeting this campaign season and said the state needs to use performance audits as a long-term solution in budgeting.
“When you’re talking about caring for the less fortunate, you care for the less fortunate by being fiscally responsible,” Nichols said.
When asked what his top issue is, Lovick said “obviously, the budget. We’re going to be driven by the budget.”
He added that he is not on the Ways and Means Committee, but will have some input on what they come up with to solve the budget crisis, which has been estimated at approximately $2 billion.
Lovick said he will also focus his energies on education, transportation and public safety.
Lovick defended the Legislative decision to tap into tobacco funds, adding that without that funding, the state would have had to kick people off state-sponsored medical insurance.
“We cannot go around with a lot of simple answers that are going to make us all feel good,” he said. “We have to go to Olympia with real numbers … The first thing is to say everything is on the table.”
Lovick said one change the Legislature could consider is getting nonviolent criminals out of our prison system and using electronic home monitoring.
Both candidates support Referendum 51, which would use a 9 cent gas tax to fund the most needed road repair projects around the state and improve transportation. If the measure fails, Lovick said, “we have a regional package ready to go.”
Nichols said something must be done if R-51 fails. “This should have been handled years ago. It should have been handled in the last Legislative session,” Nichols said. But he did not offer specific details on what he would do as a lawmaker. “If the voters turn it down, we would have to look at all choices,” Nichols said.