Skagit County’s election results were certified Tuesday. The winners take office in January; here’s what voters can expect of them in 2021.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Washington
Larsen, elected Nov. 3 to his 11th term in the U.S. House, is likely to retain his positions on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — both important committees in this district — as well as his chairmanship of the House Aviation Subcommittee.
His priorities, outlined during his campaign, mirrored those of the incoming Biden administration: address climate change; ensure the U.S. transitions to clean renewable energy and environmental sustainability; protect land, water and wildlife; expand access to affordable health care, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions; and lower prescription drug costs.
With the Democrats' majority narrowed in the House, bipartisanship will be key to getting legislation passed. Larsen's bill reforming the aircraft certification process — a response to the Boeing 737 MAX disasters — passed the House on Nov. 17 with bipartisan support. This session, two bills he sponsored that became law had Republican co-sponsors; Larsen was a co-sponsor of seven bills introduced by Republicans.
40th District state legislators
State Sen. Liz Lovelett, D-Anacortes, and state Reps. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow, and Alex Ramel, D-Bellingham, presented themselves during their campaigns as the 40th District Dream Team, unified in their vision and in their work for the district.
“We have collaborated together to host town halls so that, even while we physically distance, you have the power to actively engage with us to discuss your concerns and needs,” they wrote in an opinion piece during the campaign.
“We continue to work together on budget priorities to ensure that the needs of our district are known and met. To ensure we are consistently on the same page, we have standing weekly meetings to update one another on our work and to make sure that each person in our community can count on us to answer their questions about what is happening in their home.”
Among their priorities: environmental and natural-resource protection access to health care, investment in affordable housing, mental and behavioral health services, and tax reform.
Board of County Commissioners
Skagit County Commissioner Ron Wesen, R-Bow, defeated Mark Lundsten, D-Anacortes, to win a fourth term from District 1.
Wesen said he will use his experience to help the county be more efficient in providing essential services; support development that provides affordable options for new homes and businesses; protect the environment and natural beauty; and “manage community change in a way that supports our maritime and marine industries, forestry and timber, agriculture, and tourism.” Another priority is obtaining the remaining funding required for a new Guemes Island ferry and dock adjustments. Roughly one-third of the funding has been obtained for an electric ferry to replace the current 41-year-old diesel ferry, Wesen said, and he hopes the new ferry can be in service in 2023.
Burlington Chamber of Commerce executive Peter Browning, who ran unaffiliated with a political party, was elected as the county commissioner from District 2, defeating Mount Vernon City Councilwoman Mary Hudson in the general election. Incumbent 20-year Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt lost in the primary.
Browning said mental health, substance abuse and homelessness should be addressed as separate issues, not as one. Homelessness is often caused by economics, he said. Jobs creation and planning for growth top his agenda.
“We need good housing that does not take away farmland,” he said during the campaign. “We must keep farms strong and look for value-added opportunities, such as our two new flour mills, to keep farms vital.”
Skagit County Superior Court
Judge-elect Elizabeth Yost Neidzwski said during the campaign that her priorities are to boost public confidence in the court’s ability to distribute justice equitably, “particularly in this time of great unrest over racial and social justice.”
There’s a backlog of cases because of the pandemic, and she wants to see the court safely resume its work. She wants to ensure equal access to justice for people living in poverty, have immigration concerns or mental health issues.
“Untreated mental illness can lead to homelessness, addiction and criminal charges,” she said during the campaign. “Skagit County used to have a Mental Health Court, which provided support and stability within the community instead of incarceration. Unfortunately, our Mental Health Court was terminated several years ago.”
Skagit Public Utility District
PUD Commissioner-elect Andrew Miller said Monday that he wants to make sure the district’s revenue projections “are consistent with growth demands,” that district policies “are consistent with our values,” and that the PUD works with agriculture and environmental interests regarding water access and quality.
“Healthy fields drive jobs and food security, as well as soil quality and ultimately water quality that improves the viability of salmon and our ocean environments, as well,” he said during his campaign. “I will address this by insisting that the PUD be at the table early and often in support of agricultural use and environmental partnerships.”
Miller’s approach in working with others is to focus on common interests.
“We all want the same thing – a great quality of life,” he said.