Legislative and PUD candidates meet voters one-on-one at Sunday forum

Petra Bigea, right, candidate for 21st District House of Representatives, talks to an attendee at Sunday’s candidate forum.

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.

Prosecuting Attorney candidate Adam Cornell at the podium.

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.

Incumbent PUD Commissioner Sid Logan talks to an attendee.

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.

PUD Commission candidate David Chan addresses the audience.

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.

PUD Commission candidate Rebecca Wolfe is joined by campaign treasurer Rubie Johnson.

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.”

Mario Lotmore is running for 21st District State Senator.

]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.”

Rep. Strom Peterson discusses issues with constituents.

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.

32nd District State Sen. Maralyn Chase addresses the crowd.

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.”

Shoreline City Councilmember Jesse Salomon is running for 32nd District State Senate.

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.

Diodato (Dio) Boucsieguez is running for 32nd District House of Representatives, Pos. 1.

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.”

Incumbent 32nd District Rep. Cindy Ryu discusses her work in Olympia.

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

6 Replies to “Legislative and PUD candidates meet voters one-on-one at Sunday forum”

  1. ENAC (Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition) and the Snohomish Group of the Sierra Club did an excellent job yesterday of providing a forum to hear the views, priorities, and positions of candidates in Snohomish County 2018 elections. It gave first-time candidates like me a good opportunity to practice our public speaking, meeting the public, and learning about voters’ concerns.

    Thanks to all of the volunteers who organized and directed the set-up, the refreshments, the timing, and the emcee-ing (by Laura Johnson) for the event. Huge thanks also to My Edmonds News for being with us and covering the event. “Job well done” by everyone involved.

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  2. I do need to clarify the point about how many millions of dollars were spent on the three hydroelectric projects. The Sunset Falls project that was abandoned after over seven years of a very contentious process has been estimated to have cost about $10 million. That estimate does not include the aggressive and continual marketing and public relations expenditures over the years of the PUD’s efforts to “sell” the project to their ratepayers county-wide. The PUDs response to our Public Records Request said, “No ‘direct costs’ were related to the Sunset Falls project. That is a tricky way of dodging the truth — that for many years the PUD was promoting more low-power hydropower from one of the most valuable salmon rivers in our region. The South Fork of the Skykomish has numerous protections that SnoPUD repeatedly tried to avoid. They even lobbied in DC for a new law that would have removed vital fish and wildlife protections in the area.

    The $60 million expenditure was for two new hydropower dams on Hancock and Calligan Creeks. In an overnight reversal, SnoPUD changed from pushing for new low-power dams to stating that they no longer needed more hydropower. The total for just these three hydro projects was (conservatively) $70 million. Those dollars would have gone a long way toward achieving major energy efficiency savings that would have reduced demand for new energy resources. We could have greatly reduced rates for low-income and retired customers whose rates have increased every year to help pay off debts incurred by the current Commission.

    Do not be misled. If you want to know more, please contact me at the website for our campaign, WolfeforGoodEnergyPUD.

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  3. Petra Bigea is a fantastic candidate. She’s a caring mom, an immigrant, who values our community for what makes it great. I used to be politically active. I learned to hate politics because I couldn’t figure out why people in my own party even ran. I think they want posterity, or to feel important. Lots don’t have a life, and maybe want to compensate for the lack of purpose they feel in the wake of a divorce. There are plenty of real reasons hiding behind the “serving my community” line. . Ask your candidate why they are running and feel out their answer. I’ve spoken with Petra. I think she’s running mostly because she can, as it wasn’t an option where she came from. She’s genuine, which is a really hard thing to know about someone.

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  4. I’m happy to hear your comments about Ms. Bigea. After assessing all of the campaign materials I decided to vote for her.

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  5. I also plan to support Ms. Bigea. She was walking neighborhoods and showed up on my porch before the primary. We had a wonderful conversation. I found her genuine, passionate and excited about getting involved in our state politics. She loves this country and is so grateful for the opportunities it has afforded her and her family that she wants to help. Having grown up in a country where citizens had little if any opportunity to shape policy (Romania under Communist rule), she takes the rights of being an American citizen seriously. Why is it that it often takes people who grow up in other countries to show native born Americans just how blessed we are to live here?

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    1. Rebecca, some immigrants that come here want to transform our democracy into the place they escaped from, while others want to remind us what’s so great about what we already have. Both types of people provide reason for contemplation.

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