Roundup of region's election races

October 17, 2010 

The Nov. 2 general election is two weeks and two days away. Still undecided on how to cast your vote? The following list of candidate positions, parties and particulars is your one-stop guide to area contested races.

ASSESSOR

Glen Morgan, 39, a Republican, is seeking his first term as assessor. He has worked as a business consultant, as a business-turnaround specialist and with startup businesses.

Steve Drew, 50, a Democrat, is seeking his first term as assessor. He has worked as an independent propertyclaims adjuster in the state since 1983.

Positions: Morgan said he wants to improve customer service at the Assessor’s Office and to ensure that property valuations are accurate and that the office addresses the backlog of property-tax appeals. He also says the corporation that jointly owns Great Wolf Lodge – the Chehalis Indian Tribe and Great Wolf Resorts of Wisconsin – should pay its fair share of property taxes. Drew also wants to address the backlog of propertytax appeals and ensure that property valuations are accurate. He agrees that the corporation that jointly owns Great Wolf Lodge should pay its property taxes, but he also says he would have worked more closely with the Chehalis Indian Tribe before the need for litigation. COUNTY COMMISSION

DISTRICT 3 SEAT

Karen Valenzuela, 60, a Democrat, was appointed to the commission in February 2009 and defeated Pat Beehler in the general election that year. She is a former Tumwater City Council member.

Pat Beehler, 65, a Republican, is a former public and private land surveyor and has served a term as the chairman of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce.

Positions: Valenzuela says the proposed updates to the Thurston County’s criticalareas ordinance must lean toward the strongest environmental protection. She also says it’s important to find a path toward opening the new county satellite jail. Beehler said he wants to see more emphasis on property rights and also says the county must move toward opening the jail.

SHERIFF

Debbie Mealy, 43, a Democrat, is a lieutenant with the Sheriff’s Office and serves as deputy director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. She started as a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy in 1995, was promoted to patrol sergeant four years later and was promoted to lieutenant in 2007.

John Snaza, 45, an independent, is commander of the Thurston County SWAT team and serves as a community service deputy. He became a deputy in 1993 after working briefly as a police officer in Winlock and as a Nisqually tribal police officer. He has served as a narcotics detective with the Sheriff’s Office and as commander of its methamphetamine-response team .

Positions: Both say they want to put more deputies on the road by reorganizing the Sheriff’s Office and eliminating some senior management positions. In making any decision as sheriff, Snaza said he will ask himself, “What will benefit the safety of the community and the safety of the officers that are working the road?” Mealy said her public-safety priorities include fighting domestic violence and gangs, and protecting people from career criminals and registered sex offenders.

AUDITOR

Kim Wyman, 48, a Republican, is seeking her fourth term as auditor. She has worked in the Auditor’s Office since 1991 and previously served as elections director.

Ric Abbett, 53, a Democrat, is a self-employed consultant and was most recently a corporate executive for Trout Unlimited.

Positions: Abbett wants to see more commitment to minority and underrepresented voters; Wyman says her office shares that commitment and has provided multiple formats for voting. Both want to see the primary election moved up to accommodate overseas voting; Wyman wants to explore electronic voting .

TREASURER

Shawn Myers, 55, a Democrat, is running for re-election after being appointed to replace Robin Hunt, who resigned for another job .

Tom Nelson, 37, a Republican, is a vice president and commercial loan officer for Thurston First Bank .

Positions: Myers wants to create a Web portal to give upto-date information about taxing districts and make tax statements available electronically, and to allow an e-payment option. Nelson’s ideas include sending out postcards to people who are late on paying their property taxes and real estate excise tax payments and automating the real estate excise tax form.

U.S. CONGRESS

3RD DISTRICT

Jaime Herrera, a Republican state lawmaker from Camas, is a former senior aide to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.

Denny Heck, a Democrat from Olympia, served five terms in the state House and as chief of staff to former Gov. Booth Gardner. He cofounded the TVW public-affairs network.

Positions: Herrera wants to repeal federal health and financial reforms in favor of letting a free market recover on its own. Heck wants to invest in infrastructure, tax breaks to spur small-business hiring and expansion of clean-energy industries. Both say debt is a problem; Heck wants a line- item veto for the president, while Herrera wants a constitutional amendment requiring yearly balanced budgets.

9TH DISTRICT

Adam Smith, a Democratic House representative from Tacoma, is a former prosecutor and legislator completing his seventh U.S. House term. He is chairman of a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

Dick Muri, a Republican from Steilacoom, is a Pierce County councilman in his second term and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. He served as a C-141 airlift officer and navigator and has been a school board member and wrestling coach .

Positions: Muri opposes using federal earmarks in the budget and would have let major banks fail rather than approve the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was aimed at halting the financialmarkets meltdown in 2008. He opposes the federal economic-stimulus and healthreform bills and favors a balanced-budget amendment. Smith says he thinks health reform is not finished and that additional votes are needed to control health care costs. He says the TARP aid to banks prevented failure of half the nation’s largest institutions and that the stimulus did what it was meant to do – halt economic bleeding.

STATE HOUSE

22ND DISTRICT, POSITION 1

Chris Reykdal, a Democrat, serves on the Tumwater School Board and is deputy executive director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Jason Hearn, a Republican from Lacey, serves on the Lacey City Council and owns media-buying firm Northwest Media.

Positions: Reykdal says tax investments in government are shrinking compared with the larger growing economy. He says he wants better investment in public education and that reform is needed to rebalance the tax load and to provide more funds to cover school and health care costs. Hearn favors putting more of the cost onus on government workers for health coverage. He wants to lower state spending and business taxes to spur more job growth in the private sector and says a major priority is keeping pensions funded.

22ND DISTRICT, POSITION 2

Chris Ward, who lists himself as having “No Party” affiliation, does computer-repair work for an Olympiaarea retail firm.

Sam Hunt, a five-term Democrat from Olympia, is a retired state employee, former North Thurston School Board member and chairman of the House State Government Committee.

Positions: Ward says Gov. Chris Gregoire’s across-theboard cuts were too little and a little late. He supports reducing pay for public employees by 10 percent – either on an hourly wage basis or by reducing hours worked . Hunt has advocated for better compensation and health coverage for state employees. He said if he had to choose, he’d rather see state jobs cut than have workers pay the 26 percent of health premium costs that Gregoire proposed in the latest contract talks.

STATE SENATE

35TH DISTRICT

Nancy Williams, a Republican from Allyn, calls herself a “tea party grandma” and is a retired postmaster and former co-owner of a cab company and mini-storage business.

Tim Sheldon, a Democrat from Potlatch, is a 20-year lawmaker. He is a former Mason County economicdevelopment director and serves as a county commissioner.

Positions: Both candidates criticize tax increases adopted by the 2010 Legislature, and both say government needs to shrink. Both would vote similarly on nine measures on the Nov. 2 ballot, including opposition to an income tax on high-earners and favoring a tax repeal and limits on lawmaker votes. Sheldon says his experience is broader and that he has a long record of voting for his district’s interests and bringing funds home for projects. He said he plans to keep working for restructured government, including private sales of liquor, if two liquor initiatives fail. Williams says she wants to block federal health reform from taking effect in Washington, reduce regulations for businesses, sell off assets to pay down debt and cut down on abuses she sees in entitlement programs.

STATE HOUSE

35TH DISTRICT, POSITION 1

Dan Griffey, a Republican from Allyn, is a firefighter with Mason County Fire District 5 and owns a small upholstery business.

Kathy Haigh, a Shelton Democrat and veterinarian, is seeking her seventh term. She is a former school board member and is chairwoman of the House Education Appropriations Committee.

Positions: Haigh says she worked over the past several years to improve funding for education, including winning voter passage of a constitutional amendment that lets a simple majority approve local tax levies. She has battled cuts to all-day kindergarten and other public school programs. Griffey decided to run after Haigh and other Democrats voted to temporarily suspend the two-thirds vote requirement in Initiative 960. He wants wholesale cuts to government, including a halt to allday kindergarten funding, and would seek to give tax credits to businesses.

35TH DISTRICT, POSITION 2

Fred Finn, a first-term Democrat from west Thurston County, is in the commercial real-estate business. He formerly served on the Griffin School Board, ran a paint store in Olympia and worked as a telecommunications lawyer in Washington, D.C.,

Linda Simpson, a Republican from Bremerton, is a U.S. Navy reservist, a staff member at the Bremerton Boys & Girls Club and a former Bremerton PTA president.

Positions: Simpson thinks lawmakers should cut more deeply than they did and wants to hand more of the state’s functions over to the private sector while reducing taxes on business. Finn was among the few House Democrats who voted against suspending the two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases. But he did support the nearly $800 million in new revenues approved by lawmakers this year.

20TH DISTRICT, POSITION 1

Corinne Tobeck, a Democrat from west of Tumwater, is a former Tumwater School Board member and former executive director for the Tumwater Chamber of Commerce, as well as the West Olympia Business Association and Government Building Owners and Lessors Association.

Richard DeBolt, the House Republican leader from Chehalis, is seeking his eighth term. He is the communityrelations director for Trans-Alta, the Canada-based company that owns the Centralia power plant, and a former chamber of commerce director.

Positions: DeBolt wants to address flooding along the Chehalis River with waterstorage basins in upper drainage areas. He says he wants a budget without new taxes and acknowledges his caucus failed to put out a budget that could have showed a way to write a budget in 2010 without new taxes. Tobeck says DeBolt has given only lip service to education funding and that she would favor new revenues for schools. She said lawmakers also need to do more to help displaced workers, including offer training, to get jobs in clean-energy fields.

2ND DISTRICT, POSITION 1

Jim McCune, a Republican and commercial fisherman from Graham, is seeking his fourth term in the House.

Marilyn Rasmussen, a Democrat from Eatonville who served 22 years in the Legislature, is a dairy farmer. She lost her Senate job in the 2008 election.

Positions: Both candidates oppose tax increases, and both say tax increases should be avoided in January, when lawmakers confront a $4.5 billion shortfall. McCune has passed few bills but said he won funding for a skill center for high school students in his district. Rasmussen has been an advocate for children with autism and their families.

2ND DISTRICT, POSITION 2

J.T. Wilcox, a Republican from McKenna, is a former chief financial officer with Wilcox Farms and has a business in public relations and management consulting.

Tom Campbell, a Republican, is a chiropractor from Spanaway. He served in the House twice for a total of eight terms. He is chairman of an environmental health committee for Democrats and sits outside his caucus.

Positions: Both candidates opposed the Legislature’s vote to increase select taxes this year, and both criticize the majority Democrats’ spending plan. Campbell’s voting record is an issue in the race, even though he helped win funding for a Yelm bypass highway and for a cross-base highway project in Pierce County. He also sides with Democrats on some labor, health and consumer issues. This has angered business interests backing Wilcox, while labor groups are assailing Wilcox’s family business for safety violations dating back several years.

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