Four state House seats are up for grabs Nov. 6 in the 30th and 31st legislative districts.
The districts have geography and politics in common. Both include parts of King and Pierce counties, and both are swing districts that send Democrats and Republicans to the Legislature.
The 30th District’s population center is Federal Way in South King County and includes a small chunk of northern Pierce County. The 31st includes Auburn, Enumclaw, Edgewood, Bonney Lake, Buckley and Sumner.
• The two 30th District House seats to be decided include the open Position 1 being vacated by Democrat Mark Miloscia.
As might be expected, that race drew a scrum of candidates. The Aug. 7 primary survivors are Republican Linda Kochmar, a utility district risk manager who has served on the Federal Way City Council for 14 years, and Democrat Roger Flygare, a court reporter and small-business owner.
Either of these candidates would do a good job for the district, but we think Kochmar’s many years of work in the civic trenches make her the superior candidate. There’s something to be said for honing one’s legislative skills at the local city council or school board level.
Kochmar’s council experience gives her insight into how unfunded state mandates can burden local governments, and as a self-styled moderate Republican she’d likely be able to work collaboratively across the aisle to get things done.
• Another Federal Way City Council member, Democratic attorney Roger Freeman, is challenging Republican incumbent Katrina Asay for House Position 2.
Freeman is an impressive, thoughtful candidate with deep community service roots, and he’d do a good job if elected. But we think Asay, a real estate agent and former Milton mayor and City Council member, deserves re-election.
Asay is a plainspoken, pragmatic candidate who has shown an independent streak in her freshman term. Those qualities are needed as the Legislature continues to deal with tough budgets and the challenge of funding K-12 education as required by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.
• In the 31st District House Position 1 race, incumbent and small business owner Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, faces a challenge from Democrat Brian L. Gunn of Auburn, a software testing engineer.
In her freshman term, Dahlquist has shown an ability to work with the majority party – and her Democratic district counterpart, Rep. Christopher Hurst – to get legislation passed. A former Enumclaw School Board president, she is passionate about education – which will serve her well during battles over school reform and funding.
Gunn is an intelligent, community-minded candidate, but his liberal positions on issues aren’t as good a fit with the conservative-leaning district as Dahlquist’s. We think voters should give her another term.
• Hurst, the House Position 2 incumbent, calls himself an independent Democrat – which reflects his status vis--vis his party’s leadership. A retired police officer from Enumclaw, Hurst is a member of the so-called “Roadkill Caucus,” a group of Democratic centrists in the House who have butted heads with their party and its traditional supporters. The group tries to bypass partisan politics and work across the aisle to make progress on key issues like workers’ compensation.
We like that kind of independence and wish more legislators would show it. District voters would be wise to retain Hurst, who serves as chairman of the House Public Safety Committee. His opponent, Auburn School Board member Lisa Connors, doesn’t make a strong case for replacing the veteran legislator.Read more endorsement editorials at thenewstribune.com/endorsements.