We endorse: Pivetta Hoffman, Wilcox, Becker in Legislature District 2

From the Editorial Board

(From left) Amy Pivetta Hoffman, Rep. J.T. Wilcox and Sen. Randi Becker are The News Tribune's choices for state Legislative District 2.
(From left) Amy Pivetta Hoffman, Rep. J.T. Wilcox and Sen. Randi Becker are The News Tribune's choices for state Legislative District 2.

Amid this contentious political season, two candidates hailing from the South Sound’s Legislative District 2 insist on playing grown-up. Imagine that.

Vying for House Position 1 in the 2nd District are incumbent (but barely) Republican Andrew Barkis and Democrat Amy Pivetta Hoffman. As we entered a long Indian summer of endorsement interviews for the November general election, we found them them to be two of the more deferential competitors.

But nice by itself doesn’t win endorsements, a good fit for the district does, which is why Frederickson resident Pivetta Hoffman ultimately wins ours.

Pivetta Hoffman is a small business attorney who runs a solo law practice on Puyallup’s South Hill. She aptly describes the district that overlaps Thurston County and the Pierce County communities of Graham, Orting and Eatonville as rural but increasingly suburban — a district that attracts young families and businesses.

If elected, she wants to fix her attention on what matters to a new surge of commuter residents: traffic, infrastructure and growth management. She makes a cogent argument that the 2nd District delegation lacks a voice representing suburbia. “I think voters need somebody who lives like them.”

As a Bethel School Board member, Pivetta Hoffman has dealt with the practical effects of underfunded schools and names the Legislature’s long-deferred duty to fully fund K-12 education as a reason she’s running.

Her opponent, Barkis, lives in rural Thurston County and works as a property manager for single-family rental homes. Barkis was appointed to the House in February to replace Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting.

Along with a strong business résumé, Barkis brought needed composure to the seat after Hunt resigned because of unanswered questions about his military record. Barkis is technically the incumbent in this race, but his experience in elected government can be counted in weeks rather than legislative sessions.

We give the edge to Pivetta Hoffman, whose experience in local elected representation is tallied in years.

Elsewhere in District 2, voters should feel comfortable sticking with a pair of rural incumbents who won our endorsements before the primary election.

For House Position 2, three-term incumbent J.T. Wilcox, R- Yelm, is the clear choice. Democrat Derek Maynes of Puyallup may be eager to serve, but the Air Force veteran’s lack of experience and depth on major issues makes Wilcox an easy call.

Wilcox, a former top manager at Wilcox Family Farms, holds influence as House Republican floor leader, and his heart for the rural side of his district has remained steady. Deemed “Transportation Champion” by the Association of Washington Cities, he helped bring to fruition the much-needed Yelm bypass.

For the District 2 Senate seat, eight-year incumbent Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, deserves another four-year term.

Democratic challenger Marilyn Rasmussen has had a long career of public service to include school board member, state representative and senator. But Becker seems to have hit a decent stride in Olympia — particularly on health care issues, such as bringing “telemedicine” to remote communities like hers — and we see no reason to break it.

Becker also has shown an ability to evolve. The chairwoman of the Senate Health Care Committee, she stripped an insurance transparency provision from a bill in 2014. She came back the following year and sponsored a bipartisan bill, later signed into law, that improved the database where people can track the costs of medical exams and procedures.