Voters in the 35th Legislative District are picking two state representatives this year, because the Position 2 incumbent, Fred Flinn, has retired after serving two terms.
The senate seat held by 22-year veteran Tim Sheldon is not up for re-election this year.
District 35 includes all of Mason County and parts of Kitsap, Grays Harbor and Thurston counties.
This race features a rematch between 14-year incumbent Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, and Republican challenger Dan Griffey, a firefighter from Allyn.
Haigh, a veterinarian, narrowly won the 2010 election, and voters would be wise to select her again.
She is a moderate Democrat who has worked extensively with Republican colleagues who are focused on her key issues: education and closing the ideological divide between urban and rural lawmakers.
On education, Haigh has used her previous school board experience to influence several major education policy changes. She was a champion of the effort to eliminate the supermajority vote on school levies and one of the leading advocates for all-day kindergarten.
The Legislature faces a tough challenge over the next two years, trying to balance the budget and meet the Supreme Court’s order to fully fund basic K-12 education. Haigh’s expertise and passion for schools and her ability to work across party lines make her the best choice in this race.
Her opponent, Griffey, is an affable lifelong resident of the district who remembers when forestry operations offered well-paying jobs and how the spotted owl controversy took those jobs away.
He opposes the Growth Management Act because he thinks it has taken people’s property rights away, and he would support legislation to eliminate it.
Griffey has no experience in elected office and gushes the Republican Party line of too much waste in government spending, no tax increases and too many regulations for businesses and schools.
He wants the Legislature to do its budget first and start by fully funding education. When asked where the revenue would come from or what he would cut to find education funds, he says voters must be patient and wait for the economy to recover.
Griffey is proposing statewide business licenses, an idea that could work well for some professions and trades.
Haigh understands her district exceptionally well and is better equipped to protect and advocate for her constituents’ needs. The Legislature also desperately needs her knowledge and energy on education issues.
Republican Drew MacEwen and Democrat Lynda Ring-Erickson are vying to replace two-term representative Fred Flinn.
Voters should elect Ring-Erickson, because after serving 7-1/2 years on the Mason County Commission she knows the effect state legislation has on local jurisdictions. That knowledge and experience would benefit state law-making.
The candidate is going against the normal trend. Most often, state legislators retire to run for county government offices. That’s the path of Thurston County Commissioners Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero, for example.
Ring-Erickson, a past president of the Washington State Association of Counties, wants to bring that experience to the Legislature, which could have a positive effect when debating bills to reform the Growth Management Act and the Shoreline Management Act.
She is a natural to take on her preferred committee assignments of local government, transportation and natural resources.
Ring-Erickson would be a helpful seat-mate to Rep. Kathy Haigh, if both were elected. She holds a doctorate in education and has strong views about the latest education trends.
MacEwen, a U.S. Navy submarine veteran, runs Falcon Financial Inc., a private investment firm he founded in 2001. He is president of the Shelton Chamber of Commerce.
His platform is almost identical to that of his Republican counterpart seeking the Position 1 seat. He lists jobs, education and government reform as his top priorities.
Like Griffey, MacEwen says a simpler regulatory environment would encourage business startups and expansion, which would create jobs. He cites overlapping regulations, such as the GMA and shoreline regulations, as inhibitors to economic progress.
Unlike Griffey, MacEwen has the private sector experience to back up his regulatory reform ideas.
When it comes to fully funding education, MacEwen also says economic growth will generate increased revenues for the state to pour into K-12 schools.
He supports privatizing any state government activity that can be done as well and for the same cost or less. He favors reining in agency directors and controlling an absolute number of state employees.
However, Ring-Erickson’s experience dealing with state legislation on the receiving end would be an invaluable resource in the state House.