Three former and current legislators vying for the Puyallup-centered 25th Legislative District are looking to hold onto primary leads heading into the general election.
They also have the fundraising edge in their races, though one contest – for House Position 1 – is decidedly tighter on that front. Former Rep. Dawn Morrell, who lost a re-election bid two years ago, and local chamber of commerce leader Shelly Schlumpf both have amassed significantly more than $100,000 in the race for that seat.
Theirs was the closest of the 25th District primaries, and both campaigns have seen a significant infusion of cash from party organizations in the lead-up to the November vote.
In the other contests, Rep. Bruce Dammeier is looking to make the jump to the Senate against college student Eric Herde, and retired law enforcement officer Bill Hilton is vying to unseat Rep. Hans Zeiger in the race for House Position 2.
Voters in the swing district, which includes territory from Fife south to unincorporated land near Orting, have sent both Republicans and Democrats to the Legislature in recent years.
Dammeier, a 51-year-old Republican, said his emphasis on relationship-building would translate well to the Senate. He touts his experience in the Legislature and business world; he’s a partner in a small printing company and has spent four years in the House.
He also spent eight years on the Puyallup School Board.
“I have a record the community can look at, both as a school board member and a representative,” he said.
He’s raised more than $300,000, making him by far the best-funded 25th District candidate.
He said he’ll focus on policies and projects that help with economic recovery and job growth, such as the long-sought completion of state Route 167.
And he’ll continue to work on strengthening the education system, he said. Dammeier, the ranking Republican on the House Education Committee, has advocated prioritizing spending for education.
Public safety and care for vulnerable citizens, such as the disabled, also should top the list, he said.
He said raising taxes isn’t the answer to budget problems and that the state should look to curb spending first.
Herde, 20, a Democrat who’s studying math, political science, Norwegian and environmental studies at Pacific Lutheran University, also cited education as a top priority, saying he’ll work to restore funding. Some kind of revenue increase will be needed to “get education funding where it needs to be without completely destroying other programs,” he said.
Herde said he’ll also work for completion of Route 167, which was supposed to run from Renton to Tacoma but stalled years ago near Puyallup.
He said his status as a college student would be an asset in Olympia, giving him particular insight on education issues.
“If we always voted for whoever has the most experience (in politics), we’d never get new people in there. We’d go with the same stale ideas,” said Herde, who’s raised about $7,300.
Dammeier and Herde are split on a trio of high-profile issues on the November ballot. Dammeier said he personally will vote in favor of the charter school initiative, and against upholding same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana.
Herde said he’ll vote against charter schools but is in favor of same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana.
HOUSE POSITION 1
Morrell, 63, held the district’s other House seat for eight years before narrowly losing her re-election bid in 2010.
The Democrat has raised about $154,000, including $40,000 from the House Democratic Campaign Committee and $11,083 from 25th Legislative District Democrats.
The critical care nurse said affordable health coverage is key to economic recovery and job growth, and that her background would be an asset as the state implements the federal Affordable Care Act. “It’s important to have experts working on that,” she said.
She said her familiarity with state government also gives her an advantage. “It takes every legislator a while to figure out who the players are. This is too important of a time right now,” she said.
Morrell cites education as another priority. And she said she’ll be an advocate for veterans and military families, pointing to her experience as a military spouse. (Her husband is retired from the Air Force).
She said she would consider raising taxes or fees only as a last resort after no other budget savings could be found, and wouldn’t consider a sales-tax hike.
She touts her record in the House, including sponsoring legislation to improve emergency care for cardiac and stroke patients.
Schlumpf, 52, a Republican, points to her background in business. She and her late husband owned a construction company, and Schlumpf now leads the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce.
“I know what it’s like to sign a paycheck on the front side, not just the back side. I know what it’s like to not pay yourself so your employees get paid,” she said. “I can (understand) the challenges or impediments to having a thriving business environment.”
Schlumpf said the state needs to “grow our way out, not tax our way out” of budget problems, and that fixing transportation gridlock is key to stimulating the economy and job growth.
Transportation is the one area where she might be willing to support some kind of revenue increase, she said.
“We have got to work on (state Route) 167 and a cross-base highway,” Schlumpf said. “…Our businesses and jobs will go elsewhere without good infrastructure.”
Schlumpf has raised about $133,700, including $40,000 from the House Republican Organizational Committee.
She said further cuts to education are unacceptable, and that she’ll look for reforms that help customize learning because education is “not one-size-fits-all.”
Morrell and Schlumpf are split on charter schools, with Morrell saying she’ll personally vote against the initiative and Schlumpf saying she’s in favor. It’s the same for same-sex marriage; Morrell is in favor and Schlumpf said she’ll vote “reject” on the referendum. Schlumpf said she’s opposed to legalizing marijuana, and Morrell said she needs to do more reading about the initiative.
HOUSE POSITION 2
Zeiger, 27, a Republican, is wrapping up his first term. He’s collected more than $107,000 in campaign donations.
Zeiger said his philosophy is to strengthen communities and cut bureaucracy, pointing to departments such as Labor & Industries and Ecology as possible places for savings.
When it comes to budget, he said the state must prioritize education, public safety, and services for children, the disabled and the elderly.
Zeiger said he’s committed to traffic fixes such as the completion of Route 167, which he called “the most important economic development project in the state of Washington.” On his website, he writes that he’ll explore “all options for funding and completing needed infrastructure, including public-private partnerships.”
He bills himself as an emerging leader on higher education issues and says the state needs to stop cutting funding in that area. “We’ve got to be making sure we’re investing in the jobs of the future and a high-skilled work force, and that higher education is affordable and accessible,” Zeiger said.
Hilton, 58, a Democrat, trails Zeiger in fundraising with about $43,600 in his campaign war chest.
He said his job history – he’s a retired Washington State Patrol captain – gives him special insight into transportation issues. He drove all over the district as a trooper, he said.
Like Zeiger, he cited completion of Route 167 as a top priority, along with other improvements to relieve traffic congestion.
In budget discussions, “We need to ask, ‘Are there places we could reduce spending?’ I think that’s really important,” he said, noting he also will look to close corporate tax loopholes that aren’t creating jobs.
Hilton said the state must preserve education funding, adding that’s one area where he might be willing to look at “(going) to the people to ask them for revenue.”
He said he’s prepared to reach across the aisle in Olympia and “work with people in both parties to get results.”
Hilton said he’s against charter schools, will vote in favor of same-sex marriage and hasn’t made up his mind about the marijuana initiative. Zeiger said he’ll vote in favor of charter schools and will vote against same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana.
25th Legislative District Candidates
Occupation: State representative and partner in a small printing company.
Education: Bachelor of Science in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and master’s in engineering from the University of Washington.
Civic experience: State representative, 25th Legislative District, since 2009; Puyallup School Board member, 2001-2009; member of various boards, including at the University of Washington Tacoma.
Total raised, spent*: $302,889, $216,282.
Top donors include: Bank of America State & Federal PAC, $1,800; NRA Political Victory Fund, $1,800; John D. McKay of Sammamish, Costco Wholesale executive vice president, $1,800; CenturyLink Washington PAC, $1,800; Delta Dental, $1,800.
Residence: Collins, in unincorporated Pierce County.
Education: Studying math, political science, Norwegian and environmental studies at Pacific Lutheran University.
Civic experience: Ecological restoration work with the Puget Sound environmental group Forterra.
Total raised, spent*: $7,272 (including $728 in loans), $4,242.
Top donors include: Roosevelt Fund, $1,800; retiree Clifford Allo of Puyallup, $500; retiree Harold A. Gray of Puyallup, $500; 25th Legislative District Democratic Party, $333; Washington State Progressive Caucus, $200.
HOUSE POSITION 1
Occupation: Critical care nurse at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital.
Education: Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Washington Tacoma.
Civic experience: State representative, 25th Legislative District, 2003-2010; Washington State Nurses Association legislative and health policy council; Pierce College nursing program advisory board.
Total raised, spent*: $153,970, $67,813.
Top donors include: House Democratic Campaign Committee, $40,000; 25th Legislative District Democrats, $11,083; Washington Teamsters Legislative League, $1,800; Washington Education Association PAC, $1,800; Nelson Galeos of Puyallup, a radiation technician at Good Samaritan Hospital, $900.
Occupation: President and chief executive officer of the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce.
Education: Orting High School graduate and certified paralegal.
Civic experience: Daffodil Festival music instructor and choreographer, Sumner Rotary and the Come Walk With Me committee for the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation.
Total raised, spent*: $133,720 (including $300 in loans), $45,773.
Top donors include: House Republican Organizational Committee, $40,000; AstraZeneca, $1,800; Bank of America State & Federal PAC, $1,800; Builders United in Legislative Development, $1,800; artist Madeline K. Jones of Orting, $1,800.
HOUSE POSITION 2
Occupation: State representative.
Education: Bachelor of Arts from Hillsdale College and master’s in public policy from Pepperdine University.
Civic experience: State representative, 25th Legislative District, since 2011; member of the One Another Foundation board and the Pierce County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board.
Total raised, spent*: $107,510, $87,787.
Top donors include: Farmers Employees & Agents PAC, $1,800; Washington Affordable Housing Council, $1,800; Washington State Dental PAC, $1,800; Campaign for Tribal Self-Reliance, $1,800; Duane Alton of Liberty Lake, $1,600.
Occupation: Retired Washington State Patrol captain.
Education: Bachelor of Arts from Saint Martin’s College, master’s in public administration from Seattle University, Fulbright Scholar.
Civic experience: Puyallup Food Bank board member and member of the City of Puyallup Parks, Recreation and Senior Advisory Board.
Total raised, spent*: $43,606 (including $9,800 in personal funds and $4,700 in loans), $30,477.
Top donors include: 25th Legislative District Democrats, $6,350; Washington State Troopers PAC, $1,800; Washington Teamsters Legislative League, $1,350; Council of Metropolitan Police & Sheriffs, $900; retiree Jean Trucco of Edgewood, $600.Sara Schilling: 253-552-7058 sara.schilling@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/street @TNTschilling *Fundraising information is as of Oct. 9. Sources: Interviews, campaign literature, the state Public Disclosure Commission