Our choices for the 2nd and 25th legislative districts

The News TribuneOctober 15, 2012 

Politically, Pierce County’s 2nd and 25th legislative districts look red and purple. The November election will tell us just how red and how purple.

The 2nd is rural and conservative. It encompasses a strip of East Thurston County, including Yelm, and an enormous swath of southeast Pierce County, including Eatonville and Mount Rainier.

The district’s Senate seat is now held by Republican Randi Becker of Eatonville, who ousted Democrat Marilyn Rasmussen four years ago. She has a strong Democratic challenger in Bruce Lachney of Eatonville – a farmer, retired airline pilot and former member of the Eatonville School Board.

He’d be a fine state senator. We’re inclined to stick to Becker, a retired medical clinic administrator, who’s now had four years of experience in this office and has seen some successes despite being in the Senate minority.

The state redistricting commission gave the district a windfall last year when it drew state Rep. Gary Alexander out of the 20th and into the 2nd.

Alexander, a career budget manager who now works as Thurston County’s deputy auditor of finance, is the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.

He’s a bulldog, and his influence will serve the area well. His Democratic opponent, Greg Hartman of Graham, should be thanked for making this a contest, but Alexander is the clear choice in this race for Position 1.

Speaking of competition, Republican J.T. Wilcox has none in Position 2.

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Democrats are more abundant in the 25th District, which includes Puyallup, South Hill and Fife. But they could get locked out this year with the departure of centrist Jim Kastama from the Senate seat.

Republican Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup belongs in Kastama’s seat. He’s been a superb addition to Pierce County’s legislative delegation since the 25th sent him to the House four years ago.

A powerful advocate of education (and former school board member), he works easily with Democrats and is widely respected in Olympia. His opponent, 21-year-old Eric Herde of the Puyallup area, would need considerably more seasoning for an office like this.

The two House races in the 25th offer excellent choices.

Democrat Dawn Morrell of Puyallup narrowly lost her bid for re-election in Position 2 in 2010; she’s back now, running for Position 1 against Republican Shelly Schlumpf, also of Puyallup.

Schlumpf – president and CEO of the Puyallup Sumner Chamber of Commerce – is an energetic business booster.

We prefer Morrell, a critical care nurse. Her eight years in the House were impressive; she broke into leadership and demonstrated valuable expertise on health care issues. She ought to go back there.

Morrell was unseated two years ago by state Rep. Hans Zeiger of Puyallup. Only 27, he now has two years of legislative experience under his belt – and he’s been getting good ratings from fellow legislators.

His Democratic challenger, Bill Hilton of Puyallup, a retired 30-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol, is thoughtful and public-spirited, but he doesn’t have Zeiger’s aptitude for complex policy issues. At least until 2014, Zeiger’s a keeper.

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