Saying there is “unfinished business” from the last legislative session, state Rep. Duane Sommers announced Wednesday he’s running for a new term.
The move was expected by Republicans - who appointed him to fill the unexpired term of retiring Rep. Todd Mielke - and Democrats alike.
Sommers, the former Spokane County GOP chairman said he wants to do more to reduce crime, cut taxes and reform welfare. “Spokane is experiencing more violent crime by younger persons than ever before,” he said in his prepared campaign announcement speech. Although the Legislature worked on a juvenile justice reform bill in the recent session, he complained the final version was too “watered down” to pass.
Although the Legislature reduced the business and occupation tax last session by overriding a veto from Gov. Mike Lowry, Sommers said he will seek further tax relief next year. He also supports a 5 percent reduction in property taxes, a proposal that failed to pass the Legislature this year as time for the session ran out.
Welfare recipients should face a cut in benefits after two years, and be required to go to school or get job training while receiving assistance, he said. Families should not receive increases in benefits if they have more children while on welfare, he added.
Although he was appointed to the 6th District seat last November, Sommers is a veteran legislator.
The former health care analyst served three terms in the House starting in 1987, then ran unsuccessfully for Congress rather than challenge fellow Republican Mielke in a redrawn legislative district.
He has no announced opponent, although former Spokane Education Association leader Jerry Hopkins has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate.