The race for 3rd District, Position 2 legislative seat pits incumbent Rep. Timm Ormsby, a Democrat, against political newcomer Morgan Oyler, a Republican.
In many ways, Ormsby, 51, is a reflection of this hardscrabble district. He does not have a college degree. He worked as a cement finisher for 17 years before becoming the business representative for the Northeastern Washington-Northern Idaho Building and Construction Trades Council. Similarly, he was appointed to the Legislature in 2003 and has worked his way up Democratic leadership, where he is now vice chairman of the House Capital Budget Committee and the Agriculture and Resources Committee.
The different path he has taken is one he advocates in education, too. Not every student wants to go to college, but there is still a lot that schools can do for them. Ormsby has been a strong proponent of the kind of technical education that keeps these students engaged in school and headed toward well-paying, blue-collar jobs that are vital to the community’s economy.
He wants to ensure that this path is protected, so that school remains meaningful for these children.
His perch on the Capital Budget Committee can mean the financing of important projects for Spokane. He is committed to building out the Riverpoint campus, which is critical to this community’s future. But he correctly notes that projects could come to a standstill if operating costs from other areas of the budget cannot be secured, or the state bumps up against its debt limit.
In the seven years he has been in public office, Ormsby has demonstrated an impressive transformation from legislative newcomer to well-informed lawmaker.
Oyler, 27, is from Los Angeles and comes to Spokane via Gonzaga University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in history. Since then, he has worked at group homes for at-risk kids. He is not a typical Republican candidate, which is probably why he was not endorsed by the county’s GOP organization. He is fine with the state’s “everything but marriage” law, which extends equal rights to same-sex couples. He supports reproductive rights.
On the budget front, he lines up with most Republican legislators. He says government needs to be shrunk and that new taxes should not be raised to close the looming budget hole.
However, he does not have the requisite experience as a leader, nor the knowledge displayed by Ormsby to address the difficult challenges that lie ahead. He shows promise as a future officeholder but is not ready to dislodge an experienced, qualified lawmaker.
The voters’ best choice in this race is Ormsby.