Voters had a chance to meet November general election candidates running for the 21st and 32nd state legislative districts, Snohomish County PUD board of commissioners, and Snohomish County Superior Court during a virtual event sponsored earlier this week by the Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition (ENAC) and Sno-Isle of the Sierra Club.
This is the fourth year of the annual political forum, which is usually an in-person event that offers each candidate an opportunity to deliver a three-minute statement, followed by a meet-and-greet with individual voters. This year, however, the forum was presented via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PUD Commission District 1
Incumbent Sid Logan, running for Public Utilities District 1 Commissioner District 1, was unable to attend the event but sent his statement, which was read by ENAC moderator Tana Axtelle. Logan noted that during his four years in office, he has served as secretary, vice chair, and for the past two years president of the three-person commission. Logan said that when he ran for election in 2018, his top priority for the PUD was to provide reliable electricity and water for the lowest cost. This continues to be his most important initiative, and he is proud to report that PUD is currently in its third year with no electric rate increases and no increase is anticipated for 2021. Logans second priority is providing assistance to struggling families and seniors, noting that “we have recently expanded our financial assistance programs to for our customers in greatest needs so that more are served.” During these stressful times of COVID-19, Logan’s statement continued, PUD has suspended service disconnects, expanded payment plans, and provided direct financial assistance to families and small businesses. Logan also said he is a champion of renewable energy, adding that PUD’s clean electricity conservation initiatives will be the backbone of reducing carbon emissions in Snohomish County, and pointing to the utility’s support of hybrid ferries, electric light rail, buses and cars. Read more about Logan here.
Challenger Rob Toyer was unable to attend the event. You can learn more about him here.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Position 8
Two candidates are running for Snohomish Superior Court Judge Position 8, which has no incumbent.
Edmonds resident Robert Grant, who has been a deputy prosecutor for the last 10 years and a judge pro-tem in Edmonds and Everett Municipal Courts for the last four years, was the first to speak. Grant originally went to law school for environmental planning and policy management and wanted to work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Before going to law school, he worked as a case manager in a Sedro-Woolley facility for in-patient drug addiction. The patients, he said, “taught me a lot about the criminal justice system, how they were treated.” Grant says he knew from that experience that he was going move from environmental law to working in the criminal justice system. He said that he is very proud of the work he has done and that for the past five years has worked almost exclusively with victims of either child sexual assault or crimes against persons. He is a board member of the Marjorie Mosher Schmidt Foundation, with a primary focus on children, homelessness, and the environment. Learn more about Grant here.
His opponent, Cassandra Lopez-Shaw, was unable to attend the event and Edmonds resident Alicia Crank gave a statement on her behalf. Crank said she is supporting Lopez- Shaw’s candidacy for Snohomish County Superior Court Position 8 because she believes Lopez-Shaw will bring “the viewpoints and experience” the county needs for the seat. Lopez-Shaw has nearly 20 years of legal experience in Snohomish County and Washington State courts, Crank said, and as a trial attorney she has fought for her clients in every courthouse of the county including state, federal, and the court of appeals. She is also a Blue Star Mother, with both her son and daughter serving in the military. In addition, Washington Women Lawyers honored Lopez-Shaw with a domestic violence advocacy award. Crank stressed that Lopez-Shaw is the only candidate to experience systemic racism, an issue has been at the forefront locally for the past few months. Learn more about Lopez-Shaw here.
Washington State Legislature – District 21, Position 1
Next came candidates for Washington State Legislative District 21, Position 1 — incumbent Strom Peterson and his opponent Brian Thompson
An Edmonds resident, Peterson has been serving District 21 for six years and said he has spent much of that time working on many issues that impact Washington State — and he believes that there is “a lot more to do.” He has served as vice chair of the House environment committee and capital budget committee, and is currently chair of the commerce and gaming committee. “I have a breadth of experience working on a lot of issues that I think are important to the 21 District,” he said. One of those, Peterson asserted, is the environment and he pointed to the wildfire events in the western United States that are “beyond troubling and underscore the desperate space that our environment is in.” The state has been prioritizing forest health, he said, and for the past few years has been working to ensure forests are thinned correctly, talking to lumber companies and private and public land owners, and working with the tribes. “But when we have the hottest years on record…and these fire seasons grow longer and longer, it was only a matter of time until this happened.” He said he is committed to continuing his work on environmental issues during the next legislative session, along with other priorities. Peterson’s website is here.
Opponent Brian Thompson, also an Edmonds resident, is a Republican who did not anticipate running for office until “the governor took extreme action in shutting down our economy and forced me and my employees to stop going to the office.” Thompson said it reminded him of a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that states, ‘the measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.’ A resident of the 21st District for 14 years, Thompson’s undergraduate degree is in civil engineering and his master’s degree is in fire protection engineering, and has worked on mountainside communities dealing with wildfires. On the state level, he has served on the State Building Council and is currently sits on the elevator and safety advisory committee of Washington State Labor and Industries. He worked with State Sen. Marko Liias to pass the Greg “Gibby” Gibson Fire Safety Act in 2019. He has been endorsed by Family Policy Institute of Washington Action. Learn more about Thompson here.
Washington State Legislature – District 21, Position 2
In State Legislative District 21 Position 2, incumbent Lillian Ortiz-Self is in her seventh year as a state representative. Ortiz-Self has worked a mental health counselor and a school counselor. Even, and was a clinical director of a mental health center. Even though she has two master’s degrees, Ortiz-Self said that her community advocacy work before she ran for office was the best preparation for her current state legislative role “I was involved in various communities and the stories that I have heard propel me for this work,” she said. She serves on various committees, including education and early learning and human services committee – the latter of which deals “with all issues children” – from foster care to juvenile justice. She also sits on the transportation committee, which focuses on infrastructure and ferry service in both Edmonds and Mukilteo and the jobs those bring to communities. Learn more about Ortiz-Self here.
The challenger for Position 2 is Amy Schaper, who did not attend the forum. (You can learn more about Schaper here.)
Washington State Legislature – District 32, Position 1
Running for State Legislative District 32 position 1, incumbent Cindy Ryu and opponent Shirley Sutton both gave statements.
Ryu, an immigrant to Washington state via Korea, is in her fifth term and said she has lived in four of the six cities in the 32nd Legislative District since 1976 — Seattle, Shoreline, Edmonds and Lynnwood. She has a bachelor of science degree in microbiology and an MBA in operations management. When she was elected mayor of Shoreline, Ryu became the first female Korean mayor in the U.S. In the state Legislature, she serves as the chair of the housing and community development and veterans committees. She also serves on the appropriations and the consumer protection and business committees, and on the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s work group on disaster resiliency. Ryu spearheaded the Outdoor Recreation Funding Roundtable, a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to outdoor recreation. In the state Legislature, “which I love,” she chairs the Members of Color Caucus committee and helped to begin a “robust” discussion on police use of deadly force issues – resulting in a creation of a stakeholder task force. “The Legislature enacted a few of the recommendations (regarding police use of force) and it is high time that we do much more” Ryu said. Learn more about Ryu here.
Shirley Sutton, a former Lynnwood City Councilmember, opened by stating that her values and commitment came from an upbringing in Yakima, Wash., where saw her parents’ dream of opening a store dashed by redlining. Through the donations of community members, however, her parents realized their dream. “People helping people,” Sutton said. She has a master’s degree in education and worked for 20 years at Burlington Northern Railroad, where she gained extensive experience in labor relations. She also spent eight years on the governor’s state homeless commission, which she said helped her to understand the power public programs have to positively change people lives. Sutton pointed out that King County has the highest per-capita of homelessness in the U.S., and said that “this represents a systems failure.” She would like to see a roof over every head and is inspired by the youth-led climate and Black Lives Matter movements, and the unity of native tribes protecting land and water. Learn more about Sutton here.
Washington State Legislature – District 32, Position 2
For State Legislative District 32, Position 2, first-term incumbent Lauren Davis is facing Tamra Smilanich.
Davis’s professional background is in behavioral health, an umbrella term which addresses mental health and addiction recovery. Davis points out that behavioral health is also the purpose of her legislative work, which means she covers a number of policy areas. Health care is one of them, and Davis says that 20 percent of people on Medicaid account for 80 percent of Medicaid cost and many of those are health people with undertreated mental health and substance abuse challenges and are “high users of emergency services. She stressed that a vast majority of those incarcerated are people living with treatable behavior health challenges, which is why it is also a major factor in police reform — and she stated that “help, not handcuffs” are needed. Finally, Davis noted that due to COVID-19, the state is projected to see a “huge” increase in the need for mental health and addiction services, as nearly 3 million people — half of Washington state residents – are showing clinical indicators for behavioral health needs in the coming year. Learn more about Davis here.
Smilnich did not attend the forum. (Learn more about Smilanich in this Shoreline Area News story here.)
You can watch the entire video of the Sept. 21 forum here.
— By Misha Carter