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Rep. Smith challenged by write-in candidate

A Democratic community activist from Stanwood has filed to run as a write-in candidate against state Rep. Norma Smith, a Republican representing the 10th legislative district.

Laura Lewis, the first vice chair of the Snohomish County Democrats, made her write-in candidacy official Monday. She’s confident in her chances of making it through the primary to the general election, even though mail-in ballots have been out for a week.

To get her name on the general election ballot, she’ll have to get at least 1 percent of the vote cast in the primary.

“It should not be that hard to get 600 votes,” she said, explaining that she estimates about 60,000 will vote in the 10th district.

Rep. Smith, a Clinton resident, was running unopposed until Monday, but she said the sudden appearance of a challenger doesn’t change anything for her. She said she sees the job as a privilege and has been actively campaigning, going door to door to speak to voters.

“The campaign process is really important,” she said. “It improves your work and shapes your priority when you get out there and talk to people.”

What she’s heard most of all, she said, is that people are concerned about jobs and the economy.

Lewis said that she started considering running for the office after hearing friends complain about the lack of choice in the race. She originally thought about running informally as a protest, but then decided to make it official and run a full-blown campaign.

“I’m serious about it,” she said. “When I stepped up to do it, I decided it was important. Very important.”

Lewis said she and others in the party worked hard to find a Democrat to file against Smith during the regular filing period, but all prospective candidates fell through. She said she was so excited about Tom Riggs, a fellow Stanwood Democrat, running against Rep. Barbara Bailey that she didn’t initially consider throwing her hat in. Lewis is the treasurer for Riggs’ campaign.

Lewis said her decision to run against Smith was nothing personal, but that the people in the district need someone who is more effective in Olympia. She said the legislators from the district, both Republicans and Democrats, used to work as a team, but that hasn’t been true in the last six years.

“Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen is the only one who gets any work done for the district anymore,” she said.

Smith, on the other hand, said she’s been very successful in her first full term and quickly learned that the key to getting things done is to gain bipartisan support. She feels she works well with the other 10th district lawmakers; she and Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, for example, worked together to find a solution to the availability of water to Skagit County farmers.

As ranking minority member on the economic development commission, Smith sponsored a bill that gives small businesses some relief from fines imposed by a alphabet-soup of state bureaucracies.

“It was one of the only bills that helped business this year,” she said.

The many other bills that Smith sponsored and co-sponsored can be viewed at www.leg.wa.gov.

Smith worked for six years as special assistant to Congressman Jack Metcalf.

Lewis and her husband have lived in the Stanwood and Camano Island area since 1981. She retired as an account executive in systems sales at US West 13 year ago. She describes herself as a community activist who has volunteered in charities, clubs and her church.

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