Send Hewitt, Walsh to Olympia for 16th District

The state Senate race in the newly restructured 16th District pits a relative newcomer against a legislative veteran.

It's encouraging to see challengers enter the ring and give voters a choice, but in this case, constituents would be better served by returning incumbent Sen. Mike Hewitt to Olympia.

Hewitt's conservative leanings are a good match for the district, which stretches from Walla Walla to Prosser under new boundaries approved earlier this year.

His opponent, Scott Nettles, D-Waitsburg, wasn't able to keep an appointment with the Herald's editorial board. We're left with too little information to give him full consideration.

He's serving is third term on the Waitsburg City Council and works as a corrections officer at the Washington State Penitentiary.

Nettles told the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin that he decided to run because he believes Hewitt was not responsive enough when jobs were being cut at the penitentiary. Nettles also said his experience with local government makes him the better choice to represent the district.

But as the Union-Bulletin pointed out, Hewitt was a strong advocate for expansion of the penitentiary and ultimately helped saved jobs at the Walla Walla facility.

As the Senate's minority leader, Hewitt has the clout needed to influence decisions in Olympia that affect the residents of the 16th District. His efforts on behalf of the prison are a clear example of what that can mean.

We also like that Hewitt remains flexible as he stays true to his conservative philosophy. He's demonstrated the kind of leadership that has helped bring about bipartisan solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing state lawmakers.

Last year's budget compromise, a deal brokered between conservative Democrats and the Republican minority in the Senate earlier this year is a prime example.

Hewitt is the kind of leader we need in Olympia and deserves another term in the Legislature.

The Tri-City Herald editorial board recommends Mike Hewitt for state Senate.

Walsh, state House

This is a race where our state's top two primaries allows two Republicans to face each other in the general election.

The two main differences between Maureen Walsh and Mary Ruth Edwards are their stance on same-sex marriage and Walsh's experience in the House of Representatives.

This board supports Referendum 74 and we value Walsh's experience and connections in Olympia.

Walsh's support of gay marriage is mainly what inspired Edwards to run against her. On other issues such as economy and education, their views are quite similar.

Edwards is a thoughtful candidate and has done her homework. She is a school teacher, a single mother and a former Marine. She describes herself as "a fighter."

We were impressed with her breadth of knowledge. If we saw a reason to replace Walsh, Edwards would be a good choice.

However, we see no reason to keep Walsh home from Olympia.

She works well with the Democrats and in the last eight years has built bridges and made inroads that further the interests of Southeastern Washington.

She is probably best known recently for promoting same-sex marriage in Washington, but over the term of her service, that's really a pretty small drop in the bucket.

She is a strong advocate for early childhood learning. Her emphasis is giving families tools to help them be better parents.

She does depart from the traditional Republican platform on a couple of social issues, but she toes the line on promoting agriculture and economy.

The new boundary for the 16th District includes Walla Walla, Prosser and part of Pasco -- all heavily reliant on ag.

Voters will have to decide if they value a representative who votes her conscience, even when it may not represent the "approved" party line.

Judging from the primary election results, 60 percent of them were OK with that in August.

Good leaders sometimes have to do that.

The Tri-City Herald editorial board recommends Maureen Walsh for state House.