A video of this forum is now available here.
The first local candidate forum of the post-primary political season kicked off Sunday afternoon at the Edmonds Senior Center. More than 50 citizens gathered to hear and engage directly with incumbents and challengers for the Washington State Senate, House of Representatives, Snohomish County Prosecutor and the Snohomish County Public Utility District.
Sponsored by the Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition (ENAC) and the Sierra Club and moderated by ENAC’s Laura Johnson, the afternoon’s format gave each candidate four minutes to speak. This was followed by a chance for citizens to interact with candidates one-on-one at tables arranged throughout the room, ask questions, express opinions and collect information.
First to the podium was Edmonds resident Adam Cornell, who is running for Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney in his first bid for elected office. Cornell has served for 15 years as Deputy County Prosecutor, handling several high-profile cases including the case against the gunman in the 2016 Mukilteo shooting, where three young people died. Stressing his firm belief in a “safe environment for all in our community,” Cornell added that as a person who grew up in the foster care system, he feels a “sacred duty” to give back to the community. Cornell is running unopposed.
Next up was Sid Logan, running to retain his District 1 seat on the PUD Commission. He began by voicing his strong support for financial assistance programs, investing in solar and other forms of renewable energy, and raising customer awareness about how the PUD supplies and uses energy. He stressed the need to accommodate the expected increase in electric vehicles by ensuring that the necessary infrastructure and policies are in place to meet this new demand for service. Concluding with “family matters, environment matters and experience matters,” Logan promised to continue to work diligently to ensure that the PUD is prepared for the future and that the voices of its customer/owners are heard.
Logan’s opponent Mary Rollins was not available for the forum.
Two candidates are running for the PUD Commission District 2 seat, David Chan and Rebecca Wolfe.
Chan, who also serves as a South Snohomish Fire & Rescue Commissioner, was up first, stressing his managerial and business experience. Citing his efforts as a fire commissioner to cut costs through reducing staff with early retirement programs and other incentives, Chan noted his plan if elected to the PUD post is to negotiate “the best deals from bulk power suppliers like the Bonneville Power Administration.” He also pledged support for strong environmental compliance, innovation, and programs to help seniors and low-income customers.
Chan’s opponent Rebecca Wolfe began by showing photos of her grandchildren, and stressing how she is committed to ensuring a better future for them and the rest of the next generation. “I want to make sure our energy, water and air are protected, and that PUD policies ensure this.” She then reminded the audience that the PUD is a not-for-profit agency, that the people own it, and that the voters need to hold the PUD responsible. She cited several recent expensive hydro projects costing almost $60 million, that were dropped when it was found that the output wasn’t needed. She compared it to “setting your house on fire, putting the fire out, and then taking credit for saving your house.” She concluded by saying, “We have to stop wasting money and focus on solar and efficiency.”
Moving to the State Legislature, incumbent Sen. Marko Liias (D-21st District) was in Portland attending to his hospitalized grandfather. His campaign manager Jessica Agi spoke on his behalf. Citing Liias’s deep community roots, Agi said that he “understands middle-class families because he grew up in one.” She reiterated his strong commitment to jobs, mental health, gun reform, cutting property taxes, maintaining financial reserves, and his efforts to end conversion therapy. She concluded by saying that Liias is part of “the new generation of Democrats and political leaders who are socially progressive, support small business and are unafraid to stand up to special interests.”
]Also running for the Senate from District 21 is Republican Mario Lotmore. “I grew up in the Bahamas, and have lived all over the U.S.,” he said. “One common factor I see everywhere is that people want to do better, and have a safe, clean environment.” Lotmore is a strong supporter of education, advocates a fixed property tax rate for seniors and pledges to close “the funding gap for special education.”
Running to retain his seat as 21st District State Representative Position 1 is Edmonds Democrat Strom Peterson. Calling it “the level of government where you can make a real impact on our communities,” Peterson shared with the audience how gratified he is to have served in the State House for the past four years. Citing his work on the House Environmental Committee, he underscored his firm commitment to addressing climate change, clean water, greenhouse gasses and protection of Puget Sound, salmon and orcas. He is also on the capital budget committee, where he has helped fund projects as diverse as school construction and work on the new Edmonds Waterfront Center, which will replace the Senior Center. Other issues high on his list are addressing the opioid and mental health crises, and homelessness.
According to moderator Laura Johnson, Peterson’s opponent could not be reached to be invited to the forum.
Two candidates are vying for 21st District Representative Position 2, Republican challenger Petra Bigea and Democractic incumbent Lillian Ortiz-Self.
Bigea is a strong advocate of fiscal conservatism, saying that we are “overtaxed at every turn,” and vows to work to shrink waste and hold government accountable. “Sound Transit needs more accountability, and a board that responds to taxpayers,” she said. She also advocates addressing the opioid crisis through better education and alternative treatment aimed at getting addicts back into society. “Injection sites are not a solution,” she said. “Most of the problems stem from transients moving here from Seattle, King County and even out of state. We need to enable law enforcement to remove addicts from population centers.”
Incumbent Lillian Ortiz-Self was not present as she was in Puerto Rico with her ailing father and working on service projects. She was represented by her campaign manager Jessica Agi, who stressed Ortiz-Self’s commitment to fully funding schools, improving access to career opportunities, common-sense gun reforms designed to keep kids safe, and cutting property taxes to homeowners.
Moving to the 32nd District, first up was 17-year incumbent State Senator Maralyn Chase, a Democrat. Telling of her “passion to work on economic development issues,” Chase stressed her strong commitment to addressing inequality of income and wealth, and the “ongoing problem of distribution of wealth,” primarily through reforming what she called the “most regressive tax structure in the U.S. – it’s number one in unfairness.” Citing predictions that by 2020 an estimated 50 percent of workers will telecommute, she vowed to increase access to broadband. “Right now more than half of our state’s citizens don’t have broadband,” she said. “We can’t leave them behind.” She also touched on the housing issue, advocating a new Department of Housing to address problems like “the 40,000 kids in our state who are homeless.”
Running against Chase to represent the 32nd District in the Senate is Shoreline City Councilmember and 10-year public defender Jesse Salomon, also a Democrat. Salomon vows to address transportation and get folks on light rail and off the road. Calling himself a “big environmentalist,” he promised to address salmon habitat, clean air and water. He cited his efforts to make Shoreline a safe and inclusive city, where police don’t ask about immigration status. “We need everyone to be able to access protection without fear,” he said.
Rep. Cindy Ryu, the Democratic incumbent for 32nd District Position 1, is being challenged by first-time candidate for public office Diodato (Dio) Boucsieguez, a Republican.
A UW grad majoring in political science, history and journalism, Boucsieguez (who asks to be called by his nickname “Dio”) advocates a “business-friendly, environmental-friendly” approach. “In the ’60s and ’70s the environment was a bipartisan issue, and it can be again,” he stated. Saying he will be the voice for “common-sense millennials in Olympia,” he challenges voters to “Dare to Make Olympia Accountable.”
Eight-year incumbent Ryu stresses “fully funding education, ensuring safety of our communities, and protecting our privacy, the environment, and consumers from predatory lenders.” She vows to continue her efforts to address homelessness, increase affordable housing, and fix aging infrastructures.
Lauren Davis (D), running for District 32 Representative, Position 2, could not be present, but submitted a statement, which was read by Strom Peterson. Stressing her firm commitment to ensuring that every child has access to a great public education, she vowed to continue to work for school funding, construction and support, especially special education. She supports efforts targeting addiction recovery, suicide prevention and mental illness, and is committed to wiping out societal prejudice against mental illness and addiction. She advocates transformative changes addressing homelessness, funding opioid treatment on demand, and taking action on gun violence to ensure that folks with mental issues do not have access to firearms.
Moderator Laura Johnson then returned to the podium, inviting the audience to visit the candidates at the tables set up throughout the room to ask questions, raise issues and engage with the candidates one-on-one.
For additional information, statements and contact information on the candidates, refer to the most recent Snohomish County voters pamphlet here.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel