State Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton, ran for office five years ago because he wanted to improve money management in Olympia. He’s now an experienced legislator who is a ranking member of the House Finance Committee with a practical approach to budgeting.
He is running against Frank Blair of Kennewick, a novice write-in candidate with good intentions who is testing the political waters.
While we appreciate Blair, a Democrat, for giving voters a choice, Nealey’s knowledge and expertise make him the more qualified candidate for the 16th Legislative District. Voters should return him to Olympia.
Blair, a precinct committee officer, is a surprise. On the last day anyone could file as a write-in candidate, he entered the race. With the help of family, friends and social media he was able to garner enough votes in the primary to qualify and get his name on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election.
It is better when elected officials have a challenger. It forces public discussion of issues and puts politicians on the record. So for that, we are grateful Blair decided to dive in to the election, even though he concedes it is not easy to unseat an incumbent.
Blair said he is “not running against Nealey” as much as he is “running for people” who are looking for answers from government. Blair said he believes most people feel disconnected from their elected officials, but don’t do anything about it except “sit around and complain.”
He didn’t want to be just a complainer, he said, so when he saw Nealey was unopposed he decided to get involved and run. Blair also said he knows from his impoverished childhood what it is like for families to barely make it and now, as the owner of Professional Plumbing Services, he knows the challenges facing small business. He believes his experience on both ends of the economic spectrum would serve him well in Olympia.
Some day that could very well be the case, but not now.
We would encourage Blair to continue his interest in politics. However, entering the arena as a write-in candidate leaves little time to truly prepare for the job.
Nealey is exceptionally well positioned to serve the state and his district. In addition to the finance committee, he also serves on the judiciary, environment and rules committees. He has proven himself to be a thoughtful and hard-working representative for the district, and he does his research before he votes.
He said one of the challenges of being new to state politics is developing a thorough understanding of so many different issues. His grasp of the state budget, in particular, will come in handy as the Legislature figures out how to deal with the demands of the recent Supreme Court McCleary decision, which will require millions more for K-12 education.
Voters have a choice between a write-in candidate with lofty goals and a veteran legislator who knows the system and has a good handle on what needs to be done.