Editorial: Haugen best choice for State Senate

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, has stiff competition in her bid for re-election this year, but nothing can change the fact that for the 10th Legislative District, having the chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee on your side is a rare benefit.

Indeed, for the entire ferry-dependent Puget Sound region it’s important to keep Haugen in office. Only she has the experience and influence to keep state gas tax money flowing to the ferry system and to see that the needed boats and shore facilities are built and maintained. The ferry system has experienced rough sailing for the past several years and perhaps Haugen deserves part of the blame, but the answer to its problems is not replacing the Senate transportation chair with someone from Eastern Washington, which is what would would happen if Haugen is defeated.

Haugen’s opponent, Linda Haddon, is a fine businesswoman and community leader from Oak Harbor with solid Republican credentials, and she’s right to be outraged over some of the ferry system’s shenanigans at Keystone and elsewhere. Under different circumstances she could be an outstanding state senator. But the Republicans are in the minority on the Legislature and having a minority senator would shift the 10th District’s agenda into reverse.

Even Oak Harbor, Republican bastion that it is, will be much better served with Haugen’s re-election. We need state funding for Highway 20 improvements, state help with our storm drainage and aging sewer plant, and further help with the marina project. Haugen is in a position to assist with all these things, particularly now that the mayor’s office is doing a better job of working with Olympia.

Look around the district and imagine what it would be like if Haugen had not been an influential senator over the past few years. The new commercial building at the Greenbank Farm likely wouldn’t exist, the Clinton ferry dock would not be expanded and in better shape than most docks in the system, there would be no Island Transit connector service to Mount Vernon, islanders would be unable to hop a commuter train in Mount Vernon, Stanwood or Mukilteo, and many efforts to boost and protect local agriculture may not have succeeded.

Get rid of Mary Margaret Haugen? Those who enjoy playing partisan politics may like the idea, as will the many friends of Linda Haddon, but for anyone who genuinely wants what is best for the Island County and the 10th District, Haugen is the better choice. Haddon picked the wrong race at the wrong time. We encourage her to try again some other time.

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