Running for the Legislature in Washington’s 26th and 28th legislative districts is not for timid souls.
The two districts always feature spirited battles between Republicans and Democrats and routinely send candidates from both parties to Olympia. This year is not likely to be the exception.
The 26th encompasses the Gig Harbor Peninsula, the Key Peninsula and Port Orchard. Both House seats are contested.
• In Position 1, Rep. Jan Angel – a four-year veteran of the Legislature – is challenged by Karin Ashabraner of Gig Harbor, a board-certified middle school teacher active in the Peninsula Education Association.
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This is a clean choice between a traditional Republican and a traditional Democrat. Angel is a small-business advocate who sounds like she’d rather have her fingernails torn out than raise taxes. Ashabraner won’t close the door on taxes, but – like almost all Democrats this year – prefers to talk about closing “loopholes” in the tax code.
Angel spent eight years as a Kitsap County commissioner before running for the house; her experience is a good reason to keep her. We aren’t persuaded that Ashabraner would be a trade up.
• Position 2 also offers a strong Republican, Doug Richards of Olalla, a battalion chief for the South Kitsap fire district.
But the incumbent Democrat, Rep. Larry Seaquist, is one of the best this region has elected to the Legislature.
A retired career naval officer and former battleship captain, Seaquist is a strategic thinker and one of the few legislators who genuinely understand the connection between higher education and the economy. Both the Legislature and the 26th would suffer a huge loss if he were not re-elected.
Across the Narrows from the 26th, the 28th catches Pierce County’s southwest mainland: University Place and an adjacent chunk of Tacoma; Lakewood and the military bases.
• Sen. Mike Carrell of Lakewood, a retired teacher and 16-year legislator, faces a challenge from Yoshie Wong of Steilacoom, a family therapist and new member of Steilacoom School Board.
Carrell has grown in office over the years. He’s a much stronger candidate than Wong, a relative newcomer to public life.
• Position 1 is an open seat. (Troy Kelley, who has held it, is running for state auditor.) Seeking to replace him are Steve O’Ban of Tacoma, a lawyer, and Eric Choiniere of University Place, a customer service representative for the regional military health care system.
Choiniere – the Democrat – has been active in University Place affairs and is in his first term on the City Council. O’Ban, a conservative, has a broad and impressive record of humanitarian service. Democrats will want to vote for Choiniere, but we think O’Ban would make a more effective lawmaker.
• In Position 2, Rep. Tami Green – who lives between Lakewood and Steilacoom – is in a rematch with Republican Paul Wageman of Lakewood.
Wagemann, a member of the Clover Park School Board, had an impressive military career as a Marine pilot. He’s bursting with public spirit, but we’ll stick with Green, a union advocate and registered nurse with a rare understanding of the state’s patchwork mental health system.
Now seeking her fifth term, Green is down to earth, a member of the Democratic leadership and a valuable connection with the Legislature’s power structure.