Democratic state Reps. Beth Doglio and Laurie Dolan are the strongest candidates to represent the 22nd Legislative District in the House for the next two years.
Both Olympia Democrats were elected two years ago to open seats, and – with a startling exception, their ill-advised vote to limit legislative records disclosure – each has done well.
Libertarian Allen Acosta is challenging Doglio, and though the retired Army officer is well-focused on homelessness issues, he could use more seasoning before jumping to the Legislature.
In the other race, Independent candidate C Davis is bringing a unique perspective as a former information services worker who now makes a living as an e-commerce trader and landlord.
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Though he could bring a fresh dynamic as a non-aligned member of a partisan caucus-driven Legislature, he fails to make a case that Dolan, a tax and education wonk, needs to be replaced.
The 22nd district includes the north Thurston County area and the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. The politics run green and liberal in the 22nd, and that gives both incumbents an edge.
House Position 2: Beth Doglio
Allen Acosta, a retired Army officer who grew up in Michigan, is running as a Libertarian. He wants to focus on homelessness and affordable housing.
Acosta volunteers with Crazy Faith Outreach’s meal program in downtown Olympia and also with a homeless veteran effort.
His preference is to rely on religious and nonprofit groups to deal with homelessness. For affordability and helping those struggling to get housed, Acosta is focused on changing zoning codes to promote more dense housing in city areas and elsewhere.
That is noble and an essential part of any solution. But charitable help is not enough, and a well-connected lawmaker like Doglio may be more effective winning state financial help for our South Sound communities facing homeless populations.
Doglio wants to continue improving state investments in subsidized housing and bolstering the community mental health system.
Climate change is a top focus for Doglio, who is a realist and leader on the issue, having worked on campaigns to reduce fossil fuel use with the Climate Solutions and Beyond Coal campaigns.
Doglio favors a shift to a 100 percent fossil-fuel-free electricity grid by 2045, tax incentives for electric vehicle purchases and passage of the carbon fee proposal in Initiative 1631.
Acosta says action is needed on climate change but he opposes the fee.
House Position 1: Laurie Dolan
In the other House race, C Davis is a conservative Independent who seems delighted by the learning curve his candidacy is providing. The California native worked two decades in information technology before moving to South Sound 25 years ago.
Davis is a trumpet player, did home remodeling that led to becoming a landlord, and also earns a living as an e-commerce trader. His policy priorities are lower taxes, less crime and using incentives for greenhouse gas emitters to cut emissions contributing to climate change instead of using regulations and fee-charging solutions.
Dolan is focused on continuing the work to reform state funding of K-12 schools — including creation of a new state salary schedule instead of relying on local districts to set pay. The latter helped provoke teacher strikes at the start of the fall school year.
Davis is focused on cutting taxes, particularly on property. Though we get that state lawmakers imposed a double-tax on property in 2018 as part of a hard-to-achieve K-12 funding breakthrough the previous year, simply cutting the tax is hardly a solution.
Washington needs a wide-ranging renovation of its taxation system, which Dolan as a former state policy wonk and 30-plus-year educator is positioned to do.
Our state’s problem is not too much taxation, but how unfairly the weight of taxation falls – too heavily, in terms of ability to pay, on those of low or middle incomes and too lightly on those of greater means.
Dolan and Doglio are allies in the fight for a more progressive tax code – potentially using a capital gains tax on the state’s highest earners of non-wage income to replace a portion of other taxes the state is levying.
It is worth noting, however, that neither incumbent did the right thing this year when they voted for a bill that in effect exempted the state Legislature from the Public Records Act.
The bill did provide more disclosure of legislator communications with lobbyists than the House and Senate had been comfortable providing in the past, but the bill let legislators decide which emails and texts from constituents concerning state business would be released.
The bill was rushed through without fair hearings, which neither legislator fought hard enough to address. Gov. Jay Inslee wisely vetoed it under intense pressure from open-government advocates including The Olympian’s Opinion page.
Both candidates have said the process was a mistake and support better public disclosure — to varying degrees — by the Legislature.
If either candidate had faced a stronger challenger, our recommendations would have been more complicated.
Open government must be a cardinal goal of elected officials. Disclosure needs to be their first impulse when it comes to government records – regardless of which party is in power.