A longtime nurse and Whidbey resident is challenging incumbent Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, for her seat in the state House of Representatives.
Democrat Suzanne Wood-ard said her professional experience led to her to see the inequity in her community, especially in health care, which is why she’s decided to make her first run for elected office.
“I believe firmly that everyone needs good quality health care,” she said.
The Clinton resident has been a pediatric nurse and health provider educator for 38 years. She said her focus will be on increasing access to care, especially for low-income and senior citizens. This would include work to protect rights given under the federal Affordable Care Act, she said.
Over the years, Smith has focused on behavioral health. Last session, she co-led the capital budget writing team that included $308.1 million in funding for behavioral health facilities.
Woodard also has her sights sets on education, especially after high school. She wants to increase options for job training or mentorship programs for those that don’t go to college.
She was active in the nursing union and supports strong unions in other fields as well, she said.
As with most island residents, she depends heavily on the ferry system. She said infrastructure and transportation in the state and especially in District 10 are in need of maintenance.
She has lived in Clinton with her husband, who is an employee in the South Whidbey School District, since 2012. Before moving to the island, they lived in Snohomish County for 25 years.
She’s unhappy with what she sees as inaction on issues of inequity, especially in rural and lower income communities. In a press release announcing her run, Woodard committed to not taking corporate campaign contributions.
Last year, Smith’s campaign received funding from the oil company Phillips 66 and the BP North America Employee PAC. She also had donations from several environmental protection and sustainable energy advocacy groups.
Woodard said she has a “deep sense of advocacy for people lower on the socio-economic scale.”
“I believe her (Smith’s) focus may be elsewhere,” Woodard said.
Smith has been a representative since 2008. During her tenure, she has been known to focus on environmental, data privacy and behavioral health issues. She serves as ranking member on the House Innovation, Technology and Economic Development Committee, and as the assistant ranking member on the House Capital Budget Committee. She also serves on the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.