With longtime state Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, choosing not to run for re-election, the 10th Legislative District in the state House will have a new face come January.
Five candidates are running for Smith’s Position 1 seat in the August primary election: Republican Greg Gilday and Democrats Angie Homola, Ivan Lewis, Scott McMullen and Suzanne Woodard.
Gilday is a Camano Island resident, attorney and real estate agent. In a candidate questionnaire, he said the state budget is a crucial issue, especially with the growing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The biggest issue for any legislator in the upcoming session will be the fallout from the COVID-19 shutdown and the projected $8.8 billion shortfall over the next three years,” he wrote. “This sudden and significant budget shortage will affect all aspects of state government, and we need to ensure our priorities are straight.”
The effects of COVID-19 was a common theme among the candidates.
“If I have learned anything from local government service it is that all issues and public services are connected and they must be addressed comprehensively,” said Homola of Oak Harbor, a former Island County commissioner.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has pulled back the veil exposing the shortcomings and vulnerabilities in our local, state, and federal government services. It has also shown the remarkable ability for people to help those in need and to make change quickly and effectively. I will attend to all issues affecting the amazing people and the beautiful places they love in our district.”
Lewis of Coupeville said the “impending economic crisis” requires bold action.
“We need a New Deal economy in Washington. Investments in jobs, infrastructure, education and a transition to a green economy will carry us forward and prepare our world and our workforce for the changing climate before the next crisis hits. Every investment we make right now will ensure that our children and our children’s children have a future that is bright and prosperous,” he said.
McMullen, who ran against Smith in the previous general election, lives in Mount Vernon and served on the Mount Vernon City Council for eight years. He said the pandemic’s financial effects haven’t swayed what is important for him to accomplish.
“While the pandemic has dramatically changed just about everything in our daily lives, it hasn’t altered my values,” he said. “We must do more to improve the lives and fiscal security of working families. Now, more than ever, many of our neighbors are at risk of falling into poverty with insufficient social safety nets.”
Woodard of Clinton, a registered nurse and first-time candidate, said in dealing with coronavirus impacts in the future, representatives must learn from lessons of the past.
“We must learn from the lessons of 2008-09 housing recession and avoid depleting our social safety net for communities down to dust as a method to address our budgetary shortfall, which had some dire unintended consequences we are still dealing with in communities today.”
Ballots go out July 15 for the primary election, which is slated for Aug. 4. The general election will be held Nov. 3.
— Corrected to fix Smith's opponent in previous general election
— See the candidates’ full questionnaires with this story online at goskagit.com under Elections.