Rep. Gary Alexander, a 16-year veteran of the Legislature, is running for re-election in a new district this year, and voters would be wise to return the Republican for a ninth term.
Alexander, 68, is clearly the most knowledgeable and experienced candidate in the District 2 race. His opponent, Democrat Greg Hartman, a 59-year-old firefighter from Graham who filed at the last minute, simply does not match up on any measurement of qualifications to his moderate Republican opponent.
As a result of the Washington State Redistricting Commission, Alexander was pushed from his former 20th District into the 2nd, which extends from the fringes of Lacey and takes in Yelm, Roy, Orting and all of eastern Pierce County. Thurston County resident Alexander is seeking an open seat created when Rep. Jim McCune, R-Graham, was redistricted into the 28th.
As the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Alexander says his priority this year is to continue a bipartisan, co-operative effort on the budget. He points to his leadership in the last session to protect the most vulnerable and not balance the state’s finances on the back of the lowest-income residents or to diminish public safety. Alexander says he outlined these principles clearly to his caucus and has its full support.
He will also focus on jobs, saying the private sector needs more certainty from government and an improved regulatory climate. He has endorsements from both labor and business organizations that supports his claim to be a middle-of-the-road conservative, not swinging too far in either political direction.
The Republican is firmly in favor of keeping Capitol Lake as a lake, and says the state has to commit to a regularly scheduled dredging plan. Alexander says there are enough votes on the Capitol Campus Advisory Committee to favor the lake option, but it is awaiting a recommendation from the Department of Enterprise Services, and ultimately the Legislature must approve lake funding.
By contrast, Hartman said he was unfamiliar with the Capitol Lake issue.
The Legislature faces a difficult challenge to meet the McCleary Supreme Court ruling and fully fund K-12 education, despite the two gubernatorial candidates claiming they can do it without raising taxes.
Alexander says his first goal is to fully fund education without a tax increase, once legislators can agree on the size of the obligation, but adds that he has never signed a pledge not to raise taxes.
In an interesting twist to this race, Alexander is employed as Thurston County’s deputy auditor. His boss, Kim Wyman, is the Republican candidate to replace Sam Reed as Secretary of State. Should she win, Alexander is in a position to seek Wyman’s job. He refuses to show all his cards on that possibility, but says his long-term goal has always been to chair the House Ways and Means Committee.
While Hartman seems well-intentioned, we suggest he gain some practical experience in holding an elected office at the local level before considering another run at a state office.
Alexander has earned the trust and confidence of the constituents he has represented for nearly two decades. He has the experience to best represent his new home district, and voters in District 2 should send him back to the state House.