This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
If this year’s primary election was any indication, voters in the swing district that encompasses the Gig Harbor and Key peninsulas are inclined to return their bipartisan trio of lawmakers to the Legislature.
They have the right idea. The 26th district won’t find a better mix of proven leadership, experience and representative politics.
Sen. Derek Kilmer, vice president of the Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board, is seeking his second term in the state Senate.
His opponent, Republican Marty McClendon, is a real estate broker who has never served in public office and offers simplistic answers for balancing the state budget. He is not ready for the Senate.
Kilmer has fought to give the state’s universities more leeway to price themselves to preserve education quality and to keep Tacoma Narrows bridge tolls from rising needlessly.
He has consistently been a moderate voice in the Legislature, advocating for fiscal restraint and small business growth. The Legislature needs his economic development insights and pragmatic style.
Kilmer’s counterpart in the House is fellow Democrat Rep. Larry Seaquist, who has proved just as much an asset since his election in 2006.
Seaquist, a former Navy battleship captain who worked on budget reforms at some of the highest levels of the federal government, is a detail-oriented lawmaker adept at navigating bureaucracy to find answers and efficiencies. He doesn’t talk in platitudes; Seaquist offers concrete ideas to some of state government’s most pressing problems.
His challenger, Republican Doug Richards, is a battalion chief at South Kitsap Fire and Rescue. Richards is a personable candidate, but he doesn’t make a case for replacing such an effective and learned lawmaker.
Another political newcomer, Sumner Schoenike, is challenging Rep. Jan Angel in the 26th district’s other House seat.
He is a retired pediatrician who has worked on health care access but is largely untested in the political arena. He labels himself a moderate Democrat, but some of his views tack more to the left than to the center. His lack of a track record makes it hard to predict what voters could expect.
Angel, a former Kitsap County commissioner, is the better fit for her district. Her broad record of public and community service, as well as her experience in local government, lend her deep connections to the area she serves.
Her ability to move legislation during her freshman term was tempered by her membership in the minority party, but Angel offers some criticisms of the Legislature’s performance that are well-placed. We hope she continues to grow as a lawmaker, especially if the Republican caucus gathers force.