Stuck between the gravitational forces of Tacoma and Seattle, the 30th Legislative District can sometimes feel unsettled. That sensation is magnified because it’s a swing district where six people have cycled through two House seats since 2014 due to death, political appointment and elections.
But voters in Federal Way, Milton, Des Moines, Algona, Pacific and part of Auburn can choose stability this year by reelecting three capable incumbents: Republican Sen. Mark Miloscia, and Democratic Reps. Mike Pellicciotti and Kristine Reeves.
Miloscia, 60, is the most seasoned of the three. Seeking a second Senate term after seven in the House, he’s “fanatical” (his word, not ours) about government accountability. His opposition to Senate Bill 6617, which tried to exempt legislators from the state Public Records Act, shines as a recent example.
Demanding and measuring quality performance are Miloscia’s calling cards, shaped through his work in the Air Force and the nonprofit sector and long service on the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee.
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Democrat challenger Claire Wilson, 62, is a Federal Way School Board member and long-time educator who would advocate vigorously for students and teachers in Olympia. A lesbian who’s outspoken on LGBTQ rights, Wilson has good reason not to like Miloscia’s conservative stance on that and other issues, including abortion.
Miloscia acknowledges his Catholic faith informs his politics. But it also instills him with a conscience for social justice, such as leading the fight against the death penalty. We appreciate the principled voice this former Democrat adds to the Senate GOP caucus, though we don’t always agree with him.
In House Position 1, Pellicciotti has earned a second term as a government-accountability apostle in the Miloscia mold.
The 40-year-old lawyer, who works part-time in the state attorney general’s office, opens his legislative records to the public without hesitation. Nobody in the House was quicker to speak against the travesty of SB6617.
Pellicciotti also emerged as a peacemaker in the Sound Transit wars. He wants a light-rail connection to Federal Way by 2024, and Tacoma by 2030, but he doesn’t want a taxpayer revolt. Under his plan, people saddled with skyrocketing car-tab fees based on inflated vehicle values would get some relief. It died in late negotiations last session; we hope Pellicciotti can see it through next year.
One knock against the Indiana native is that he’s lived in the district just 2 ½ years. But nearly a decade as a King County criminal deputy prosecutor placed him in the thick of local cases vital to public safety.
His Republican opponent, Linda Kochmar, has deeper roots dating to Federal Way cityhood nearly 30 years ago. Kochmar, 73, has a valuable risk-management background and a record of diligent public service. The former City Council member, mayor and two-term state representative covets the seat Pellicciotti wrested from her in 2016.
But urban migration is transforming the district, and a new generation of leaders is ready to carry the baton.
In House Position 2, Reeves has already picked it up. She’s another standout member of the House’s 2016 freshman class.
Reeves, 37, is a state economic development director specializing in the military sector, a working mom with two kids under age 6 and a woman of color with energy to spare.
She speaks as knowledgeably about the increasing demographic diversity of the 30th District, where she’s lived 10 years, as she does about hauling irrigation pipe in Moses Lake, where she grew up. She has a deft feel for constituent service after working four years in the Tacoma office of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.
Nothing motivates Reeves more than affordable, quality child care, which she views as an essential sequel to the state’s new family leave law. She’s focused on developing incentives for employer-supported care.
Her opponent, Mark Greene, is a perennial candidate who’s lost multiple state and local elections under various party labels. The Marine Corps veteran, running this time as a Republican, wasn’t able to meet with us, but the anti-immigrant tone of his campaign website is alarming. Greene’s No. 1 priority: to make English the official state language.
Reeves fits the diverse 30th District much better and should cruise to reelection.
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. To see the database, go online to verifymore.org