Editorial: Our 10th District team in Olympia

The 10th Legislative District needs a well-rounded team in Olympia. One that can work effectively on both sides of the aisle and also knows its way around Washington, D.C., from whence much of our money flows.

The team leader should be our most veteran legislator, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, the Camano Island Democrat who is seeking her fourth term in the Senate after five terms in the House. Experience like that is scarce, and voters should appreciate what it means.

With more than 20 years of service in Olympia, Haugen has accomplished a lot for her home district. The Growth Management Act was difficult to implement, but thanks to its existence Island County today has a forward-looking comprehensive plan that will help maintain our rural character while encouraging growth in the right places. Haugen was one of the prime movers behind the GMA. Her list of other accomplishments is lengthy. A few of the major ones include transportation funding for Highway 20 and Whidbey Island’s ferry docks, developing the Greenbank Farm for cottage businesses, giving Coupeville the planning flexibility it needs as a town within a historical reserve, and providing local governments the tools needed to better perform their jobs.

Haugen is one of the top legislators in Olympia, and we’re glad she’s from Island County. Her Republican opponent in the Nov. 2 election, April Axthelm, a Mount Vernon resident, knows little about the needs of Island County and has zero experience in Olympia.

For State House, Position 2, Oak Harbor Republican Barbara Bailey has earned another term by the hard, thoughtful work of her first term. Bailey entered the Legislature when cutting costs was the number one priority as the economy bottomed out. She was part of the process that managed to balance the budget without a general tax increase, and yet she has a sincere desire to help senior citizens and improve our health care system. She’s gained impressive influence in Olympia for a newcomer, and we expect to see her provide more help to her district in the future. Her Democratic opponent, Camano Island resident Mark Norton, is too quick to propose solutions that could only involve significantly higher taxes.

The most difficult choice in the 10th District is for House Position 1, being sought by Democrat Nancy Conard and Republican Chris Strow. Conard, the popular mayor of Coupeville and a former school district budget director, has a lot to offer. But, Strow would do a better job of rounding out our 10th District’s “team” in Olympia.

Strow’s strength is in the “other Washington,” where he was a senior staff member for former U.S. Rep. Jack Metcalf, R-Langley. Strow learned the ropes of federal funding during those years, and played a role in saving Whidbey Island Naval Air Station from closure. This familiarity with Washington, D.C. is something our 10th District delegation otherwise lacks, and it’s the type of experience that could pay off in the long run. We have to work closely with the feds on such vital issues as transportation, health care and base closure and realignment.

In addition, Strow is a bright, ambitious, young candidate who could go far in politics, and he has strong family ties to Whidbey Island. It’s too good a package to reject, despite the high quality of his Democratic opponent.

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