The shakeup in the 3rd Legislative District, geographically and politically, has set up an interesting five-way contest for a vacated seat in the Washington state House of Representatives.
The surprise retirement of Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and the decision by incumbent Rep. Andy Billig to run for her position has opened the way for Democrats Bob Apple, Marcus Riccelli and Jon Snyder. Republicans Tim Benn and Morgan Oyler also are contending for the seat in one of the few Democratic strongholds in Eastern Washington.
It should remain so. Brown aide Riccelli and Spokane City Councilman Snyder deserve to move on to the general election in this top-two vote.
Riccelli’s strength is the relationships created while helping Brown move legislation through the Senate and during a decade of assisting other candidates.
But he notes he worked with Republican Rep. Kevin Parker of the 6th District on Medicaid fraud legislation and Sen. Mike Padden of the 4th District on a bill that ended a silly ban on the distribution of free eyeglasses to the poor.
Well aware of the needs of a district that encompasses some of the poorest precincts in Washington, Riccelli says creating more jobs is the best response, a solution the state can accelerate by undertaking more transportation construction. His legislative priority would be the medical education complex developing at the Riverpoint Campus.
Snyder has no Olympia experience to speak of, but as a councilman, small-business man and member of an impressive list of government boards, he understands the burdens the state imposes on local government and Main Street entrepreneurs. The publisher of Out There, a monthly magazine, has firsthand knowledge of the hardships the business and occupation tax works on small businesses, and he would seek changes that would phase in the tax as business revenues take them beyond the available credit.
Snyder is a former member of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council, and he says highway dollars should be spent where they can best assist economic development, as with the Medical Lake Interchange off Interstate 90.
Apple served on the Spokane City Council for eight years, and many government boards as well. He says the Department of Labor and Industries hampers the state when competing for business. Overregulation of child care has the same effect, while overfunding of preschool programs hurts K-12, he says.
Benn, whose wife operates a day care, echoes those complaints, but seems not to see the self-interest they engender. Among other pro-business initiatives, he would like to see a training wage below the state minimum.
This is a second run for Oyler, who owns a coffee shop, coaches volleyball and counsels at-risk youths. He would fully fund K-12 education first, introduce private-sector competition to the state workers’ compensation program and impose a greater share of health care premiums on state employees.
With Brown gone, the 3rd District and Spokane will need the most effective representation in the state Capitol. Riccelli and Snyder are best able to step in.