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Our choices in 31st Legislative District races

Post by Cheryl Tucker on July 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
July 21, 2010 5:43 pm

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

One quirk of Washington’s “top two” primary is that both candidates who advance to the Nov. 2 ballot in a given race may be from the same party.

That’s exactly the outcome The News Tribune editorial board is recommending in two races in the 31st Legislative District, which straddles Pierce and King counties and includes Bonney Lake, Sumner, Auburn, Buckley, Enumclaw and Edgewood.

• In the state Senate race, either of the two Democrats running against controversial incumbent Pam Roach would be an improvement on a lawmaker who’s been sanctioned by her own Senate Republican colleagues.

For us, that crosses the line. Because of her abusive behavior, she has not been allowed direct contact with GOP caucus staff since 2008 and she is not allowed to meet with fellow Republican senators in caucus. That can only hurt her ability to be effective for her district. It’s time for a change in the 31st, and both Democrats in the race, Ron Weigelt and Raymond Bunk, earn our endorsement.

Weigelt, a former Buckley City Council member who now lives in Bonney Lake, is an Army veteran who works as a human resources manager for King County. Bunk, a high-energy Federal Way police officer, is an Air Force veteran and reservist and an elected East Pierce Fire & Rescue commissioner. He also serves on the Bonney Lake Civil Service and Design Commission.

Both are common-sense moderates who would well serve the district.

Besides Roach, Republican Matt Richardson is also in the race. The Sumner City Councilman shows gumption in running against Roach, but we think the two Democrats show more promise.

• For the open House Position 1 seat (incumbent Dan Roach is running for Pierce County Council), The News Tribune recommends the two Republicans, Shawn Bunney of Sumner and Cathy Dahlquist of Enumclaw. Both show a strong grasp of the problems facing the Legislature as it struggles to balance the state budget under heavy recessionary pressure.

Bunney has been a leader on the Pierce County Council for the past eight years and served before that as the council’s legal counsel. Highly knowledgeable about transportation and water issues, he served as chairman of the Lake Tapps Task Force. He’s pragmatic and would likely prove effective in a bipartisan way in the Legislature.

Dahlquist has served on the Enumclaw School Board since 2005. As the co-owner of a small family business, she is keenly aware of the stresses that segment of the economy is feeling. She’s sharp and energetic, and would ably represent the 31st district.

Also running is South Prairie Mayor Peggy Levesque. She expresses empathy for middle- and low-income families struggling in the recession, but doesn’t have as strong a grasp on 31st district issues as Bunney and Dahlquist.

• In the House Position 2 race, incumbent Rep. Christopher Hurst of Enumclaw faces two Republican opponents, student Daniel Geske of Bonney Lake and Sumner resident Patrick Reed, operations manager with the secretary of state’s office.

Hurst, a former police detective, says he has filed as an “Independent Democrat” to express his dissatisfaction with the “Seattle liberals” who run his caucus. He opposed the $800 million tax package and suspension of the Initiative 960 tax restrictions.

He says he and other conservative-to-moderate legislators from rural and suburban areas will demand organizational changes next year to give them more of a voice.

Hurst is the strongest of the three in this race, but for Republican stalwarts who want an alternative, Reed is the best choice. Reed is more familiar with the district’s problems and has some party support.
Geske, an amiable and intelligent 19-year-old, is not seeking contributions and does not appear to be actively campaigning.

To read earlier endorsement editorials, click here.

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