This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
Voters in the 31st Legislative District – which straddles Pierce and King counties and includes the cities of Sumner, Bonney Lake and Auburn – are an unpredictable lot. Just look at how they voted in the August primary.
Somehow, given a field of four candidates for state Senate, 31st district voters opted to send the two candidates with the most baggage to the Nov. 2 general election.
They shunned police officer Raymond Bunk and former Buckley City Councilman Ron Weigelt, going instead for embattled Republican incumbent Pam Roach of Auburn and Matt Richardson, another Republican and a member of the Sumner City Council. He has been slammed with allegations of personal, sexual, professional and ethical misconduct.
Given that choice, The News Tribune editorial board recommends voting for Roach and hoping that she spends the next four years building bridges – not burning more of them. Richardson is not an option.
While Roach had had conflicts with her party’s leadership and legislative staff, there’s no denying that she passionately fights for her district and individual constituents. She’s been a leader on the Lake Tapps water issue and has been an open-government advocate.
While The News Tribune editorial board didn’t endorse either Roach or Richardson in the primary, it recommends the incumbent as the better of the alternatives in the general election.
The race for House Position 1 again pits two Republicans – Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney of Lake Tapps and Enumclaw School Board member and businesswoman Cathy Dahlquist.
Both are excellent candidates, and voters can’t go wrong with either one. But Bunney’s broader government experience would serve him and the district well in the Legislature. As a councilman, he’s had to deal with huge budgets, transportation issues and county governance in helping run the state’s second most populous county.
By comparison, Dahlquist’s public service has been limited to the governance of a relatively small school district in King County. Pierce County voters, especially, would be better off with a legislator who can show up in Olympia on day one of the session completely familiar with the needs of their communities.
In the Position 2 race, incumbent Rep. Chris Hurst of Enumclaw deserves re-election to the House, where he serves as chairman of the Public Safety Committee. His background as a detective gives him invaluable insight into crafting legislation that affects law enforcement, and he was instrumental in the ballot measure before voters that would give judges more latitude in denying bail to suspects determined to be dangerous.
Hurst, a member of the so-called “Roadkill Caucus” of moderate-to-conservative Democrats, is running as an “Independent Democrat” to reflect his differences with party leadership. That’s put him on the outs with some of Democrats’ traditional allies, including organized labor. But his kind of independent attitude will be needed in the Legislature as it deals with a budget deficit of $4 billion – and possibly more.
Hurst’s opponent is Republican Patrick Reed of Sumner, an operations manager in the secretary of state’s office. He’s a bright, credible candidate, but could use some seasoning working on issues at the local level.
To read earlier endorsements, click here.