Carolyn Eslick (left) and Ryan Johnson

First-time candidate Ryan Johnson is challenging Rep. Carolyn Eslick, R-Sultan, for a state House seat representing the 39th Legislative District.

The district includes eastern Skagit and Snohomish counties and northeastern King County.

Eslick was appointed to the position in 2017 and was elected in 2018. She also served nine years as mayor of Sultan.

Johnson, of Arlington, is a truck driver who said although running as a Democrat, he is not beholden to a political base and isn’t interested in becoming a career politician.

He said he wants to serve as a voice for the community while the state struggles to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic — a challenge he sees as the biggest one facing state government.

“We are looking at deficits that are far worse than anything we have seen before, and a demand for programs to support our communities post COVID-19 that will be much higher than ever before,” Johnson said in a statement to the Skagit Valley Herald. “My goal is to balance the needs with the funds available.”

Eslick also named funding as part of what she sees as the biggest issue facing the state: protecting public safety.

She said that includes supporting law enforcement, which has come under scrutiny throughout the country in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans.

“(The) single most important issue is making sure we protect our safety. That includes funding the police,” Eslick wrote to the Skagit Valley Herald.

Eslick and Johnson have different perspectives on what makes them good candidates.

Johnson said he believes his being an “average working person” with a career in trucking sets him apart because he can relate to many voters.

“I know what it is like to worry about bills, day care costs, health care costs, losing a job, and the daily worries we have as working people,” he said.

Eslick said she brings experience — as a state representative, as a mayor and as a member of the business development sector — to the table.

“My years of experience ... has lent well to my work in Olympia,” she said.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199,, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH,

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