In a tale of two legislative districts that straddle Pierce and King counties, we bring good news and bad news.
In the 30th District, which includes Federal Way, Algona, Pacific, Milton and part of Auburn, the political pickings in the primary election are good, and constituents will be well served either way.
We can’t say the same for the 31st District, which includes parts of Auburn along with Enumclaw, Edgewood, Bonney Lake, Buckley and Sumner.
Sen. Mark Miloscia, who seeks a second term, and challenger Claire Wilson handily win our Aug. 7 primary endorsements for the Senate seat in the 30th.
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Miloscia’s grasp of the fine print of state government is unmatched. Seven terms in the state House, auditing and executive experience in the nonprofit sector and a stint in the Air Force flesh out the Federal Way senator’s resume.
If voters are looking for a lock-step Republican, they won’t find it in Miloscia. The former Democrat is supportive of immigrant Dreamers, voted against the death penalty and joined a bipartisan minority of lawmakers opposed to a bill that tried to exempt the Legislature from the Public Records Act; he accurately called it “a big step backward for trust in government.”
Miloscia does have blots on his record from the culture wars. He co-sponsored the misguided transgender bathroom bill in 2016 and voted against banning conversion therapy on gay youth this session.
For voters who view these as deal-breakers, Democrat Wilson offers a strong alternative.
Wilson, 60, has spent three decades in education; she’s currently president of the Federal Way School Board. Her focus on at-risk and non-traditional students tells us she comprehends the challenges facing many of her future constituents.
Strong families, the Auburn resident argues persuasively, are built through greater access to affordable housing and healthcare.
A third candidate, Democrat Tirzah Idahosa, didn’t participate in our interview and background screening.
In the nearby 31st District, voters are deprived a choice of excellent candidates. Fortunately, there’s a semi-competitive primary contest for one House seat.
None of the three Senate candidates met with us; in our minds, that’s like skipping a job interview. Regrettably, we’re unable to endorse anyone at this time.
First-term Sen. Phil Fortunato of Auburn is a right-wing ideologue. He’d fit the conservative district OK, if he wasn’t such a cranky instigator of controversy and distraction. Fortunato is the guy who gins up problems where none exist, such as proposing a constitutional amendment against a phantom state income tax, and tries to take credit he doesn’t deserve, as with recent litigation against Sound Transit.
Democrat Immaculate Ferreria, a Sumner resident of Filipino-American heritage, looks intriguing on paper; she’s a family support worker conducting home visits for the Tacoma Urban League, and she’s fought for quality preschools as a citizen.
For now, we’ll reserve judgment on Ferreria as we suspect she and Fortunato will advance to the general election. The third candidate, Jeff Benson, is a restaurant manager with no party backing and no visible campaign.
Rep. Morgan Irwin is our Republican choice for House Position 2. Raised on an Enumclaw farm, he gives voice to a feeling of government overreach in rural communities. On issues such as water rights and public transportation funding, Irwin captures his residents’ frustration, but in a thoughtful and pragmatic way.
It’s easy to see how this 35-year-old Seattle cop, whose career began in finance, earned a reputation as an articulate legislator on a variety of subjects. On the down side, he voted for that lousy legislative secrecy bill last session – but he vows to work on a better version if reelected. We’ll be watching.
For 31st voters who lean Democratic, Mark Boswell checks many of the right boxes. The 67-year-old Auburn resident has lived in the district 30 years, gaining political credentials as a precinct officer and party chairman. The Naval Academy product says he wants to bring his systems engineering and project management skills to state government.
A family crisis has kept Boswell from hitting his stride on the campaign trail, but he’s likely to survive the primary, and has a chance to woo voters who share his pro-union and single-payer healthcare views.
Bonney Lake teacher Steve Skutt is also running for Position 2. The self-described “citizen candidate” lacks experience, policy depth and party affiliation.
Checking their records
The TNT Editorial Board is partnering again this year with Verify More, a nonpartisan nonprofit watchdog that coordinates background screenings with candidates' consent.
All screenings came back clear for 30th and 31st District candidates who participated: Mark Miloscia, Claire Wilson, Morgan Irwin and Steve Skutt.
To see the database, go online to verifymore.org