2nd LD: Barkis’ housing cred is needed now

Republican state Rep. Andrew Barkis can bring important housing-industry experience to the Legislature if he is elected Nov. 6 to a second term in the 2nd Legislative District.

That background is the biggest and best reason voters should favor Barkis, 50, who lives in rural Thurston County and owns a property management company.

He is well versed on all levels of the housing crisis.

Democrat Anneliese Feld, 32, is a doctoral student from Graham in Pierce County. She also works in drug-treatment, which is background that could helpful as lawmakers put their arms around the twin challenges of homelessness and mental illness.

The sprawling 2nd district is conservative to libertarian in bent that overlaps the Nisqually River, runs northeast to the outskirts of Lacey in Thurston County and runs eastward into rural and suburban areas of Pierce County that wrap around Joint Base Lewis McChord.

Because the 2nd district’s Senate seat was up for election two years ago and Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Roy, drew no opponent for the other House seat, the 2nd district has only one race on the ballot.

If re-elected, Barkis wants to work to improve roads and infrastructure and spur economic growth. But he also is concerned about housing affordability, which in part is the result of too little supply.

Barkis also wants to deliver help to school districts not fully helped by K-12 financing reform, which is sharply cutting back on the amount of local property tax support available for school districts next year. He says Eatonville schools may be $1 million short once their levy is scaled back in 2019-20.

Feld is a relative newcomer to politics and with a job, doctoral studies, and a young child has struggled to follow through on campaign appearances.

But she is a policy wonk and researcher. Like Barkis, she wants to boost housing affordability, counter homelessness and fund education. She calls the district her “personal utopia” due to its nature views, Mount Rainier, clean air and stars one can actually see at night.

Feld also wants to highlight the needs of regional mental health organizations that provide local services. This includes having more treatment beds to drug addicted persons and more wrap-around services for those in subsidized housing.

Though both candidates could serve the district, it is Barkis who is ready to go. He can step in quickly to make a difference on housing issues that almost all Puget Sound counties are struggling with.