Wanted: two new state representatives to serve Pierce County residents living in Puyallup, South Hill, Fife, Midland and part of Parkland.
No incumbents in the field means a fresh start. We suspect the suburban swing district, which has turned into a GOP stronghold over the last decade, could be competitive for both parties.
For House Position 1, we endorse Julie Door and Kelly Chambers to move past the Aug. 7 primary and give voters a clear choice in November.
Door, 52, is Puyallup proud, “born and raised.” The Democrat says her focus is on solutions, not party affiliation, and her work navigating the often tumultuous Puyallup City Council testifies to an ability to manage conflict.
She’s a small business owner with a long list of civic involvement. Door is early in her second term on the Puyallup council, where she’s wrestled with problems plaguing the 25th. She’s no stranger to homelessness and mental health concerns, only now she’d like to tackle them at the state level.
Her involvement in regional leadership, such as the Pierce County Opioid Task Force and South Sound 911 Policy Board, give her a good grounding in both rural and urban challenges.
The other Democrat vying for Position 1, Jamie Smith, is a dynamic new voice, but Door’s experience has her beat. Smith, a teacher and coach at Rogers High School, ran for the same seat two years ago; no matter the outcome, she’s a great role model for the civic engagement she teaches her students.
Chambers offers voters a solid Republican alternative. She has a compelling narrative as a teen mother, formerly on public assistance, who started a successful small business through hard work and conservative values.
Chambers, 42, is a graduate of Lincoln High and Pacific Lutheran University. She’s volunteered with area veterans and has a good grasp of her diverse district. Though this is her first shot at elected office, she’s not new to politics; in 2016, she was active in the unsuccessful “no” campaign against a voter initiative to raise the state minimum wage.
Her Republican opponent, Emmett Smith, isn’t actively campaigning and declined to meet with us.
For House Position 2, our primary election endorsements go to Chris Gildon and Brian Duthie.
Gildon, a Republican, and Duthie, a Democrat, are similar in some ways: Both served their country and were deployed overseas – Gildon as a career Army officer, Duthie as an Air Force mechanic. Neither has held elected office. Unfortunately, both also declined to sign up for our third-party background check.
Gildon, 46, has authoritative qualities needed to fill McDonald’s vacancy. He settled in Puyallup in 2012 after years moving around with the Army, and says he’d be ready for the job on day one – “no leadership training required.”
He’s racked up hours working on state GOP campaigns and says he’s forged relationships with key players. He now works in commercial real estate and includes coaching community tee-ball as an asset on his resume.
We say if Gildon can work well with small children, he stands a chance at the Capitol.
Duthie, 35, a valley native and Rogers High grad, is our pick for the progressive vote.
He says the 9/11 terror attacks were his wake-up and prompted him to enlist. Today he’s carried uniformed service to his job as a firefighter for the City of Everett, so it’s no surprise public safety tops his list of priorities.
Having lived all over the district, from Summit to Puyallup, Duthie seems well-versed in its needs. (His nieces go to school in the same portable classrooms he once did.) His philosophy that government should “tax wealth not worth” should appeal to many voters.
Ned Witting, running as an independent, is the third candidate for Position 2. He’s a public-spirited citizen, also with no elected experience, but with time to spare in retirement.
A certified public accountant and former chief financial officer, Witting has made a career of fiscal responsibility. He says he’d be a “disruptive force” in Olympia.
We think 25th District residents would be better served by Gildon or Duthie, who would work within the system we have.
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 25th District candidates who participated. (Chris Gildon and Brian Duthie did not consent.)
To see the database, go online to verifymore.org