Opinion

Haugen, Smith, Hayes for state Legislature

In the race for the District 10 seat in the state Senate, voters should mark their ballots for Democratic Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen.

Haugen, the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, has been an effective representative of her swing district, able to work with interests as diverse as conservative farmers, labor unions and the tribes.

In challenging Haugen for her seat in the Senate, Republican Barbara Bailey has made a point of criticizing Haugen’s 30-year tenure in the Legislature.

Some elected officials grow out of touch with their constituents after years of serving in Olympia, but we haven’t seen that with Sen. Haugen. A recent example is her decision last session to support legislation that allowed gays to marry – a shift in position that she attributed in part to personal conversations with individuals in her district.

That’s not always the case with Bailey. Rather than focusing on representing the interests of her constituents, she has more often made partisan politics her top priority. Her decision to run against Haugen is an example of that focus, as she seeks to tip the balance of the Senate in favor of the Republicans.

There’s no good reason to dump Haugen for Bailey. Doing so would be a shortsighted move, and leave District 10 with far less ability to influence state policy, particularly in the critical transportation arena.

In the state House of Representatives, Position 1, voters also should keep Republican Rep. Norma Smith in office. Smith is practical and moderate and has shown an ability to connect with her constituents and work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Her challenger, Democrat Aaron Simpson, holds plenty of promise and would do well to seek local elected office before advancing to the state level.

In the race for Position 2 – the seat vacated by Bailey – voters have a difficult choice between two very good candidates, both of whom would do a good job of representing District 10.

Democrat Tom Riggs is making his second run for Bailey’s seat. For Republican Dave Hayes, a sergeant in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, this is his first time seeking elected office.

If Riggs, a state parks ranger, goes to Olympia, he would be part of the Democratic majority in the House and could prove an effective advocate for parks, which play a key role in the region’s tourism industry. Hayes, on the other hand, has experience in Olympia advocating for public-safety issues.

Given local residents’ growing concern about maintaining adequate law enforcement, District 10 voters would do well to cast their ballots for Hayes.

 

Vote yes for marriage equality

It doesn’t make sense to ask the majority to decide on the rights of a minority. And it doesn’t make sense for the majority to insist that government should regulate which consenting adults are allowed to marry.

But thanks to a signature campaign that put the issue on the ballot, voters will have to decide whether to preserve Washington’s status as the seventh state to allow gay marriage.

While some people worry their churches might be forced to recognize or perform same-sex marriages, that is not in fact a concern. Referendum 74 preserves the rights and liberties of religious institutions.

All adults should have access to the same right to enter into a legal marriage contract. Religious values should not apply to legal contracts. Voters should case their ballots in favor of R-74, legalizing same-sex unions.

This week’s issue of The Whidbey Examiner includes a copy of the Whidbey Island Voters Guide, published by your local community newspapers.

All candidate statements were provided by the candidates; please consult the guide, research the candidates, talk with your neighbors and learn as much as you can about the people who seek to represent you in elected office.

Your ballot should arrive in your mailbox this week. Don’t forget to vote!

 

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