The November race for Legislative District 3, Position One, pits 2012 contestants Rep. Marcus Riccelli, a Democrat, and day care owner Tim Benn, a Republican. A first-time candidate, Libertarian Randy McGlenn, is also running.
Riccelli represents a rare breed in Olympia: a Democrat from Eastern Washington. He is well-versed on the issues and well-connected to make things happen. He used to work for former Majority Leader Lisa Brown. While he is to the left of the editorial board on some business and regulatory issues, Riccelli’s a good fit for one of the state’s poorest districts.
For instance, he supported Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, and he’d like to augment that plan by restoring some state coverage for low-income households bouncing between Medicaid and Obamacare as their earnings fluctuate.
Riccelli is a strong proponent for expanded medical school offerings at the Riverpoint campus. He’s right when he says the campus is well-positioned to educate more future doctors but that turf battles between the University of Washington and Washington State University pose a threat to any progress.
He has the right instincts on transportation. He voted for a House bill that would have raised the gas tax and earmarked significant new money toward completion of the North Spokane Corridor with the aim of negotiating full funding with the Senate, which never voted on its plan. Riccelli would compromise on a key reform – keeping sales tax revenue from transportation projects in the transportation budget – if that’s what it took to pass a package.
He has a record of working with Republicans on common-sense bills, such as increased transparency for capital and transportation budgets. He co-sponsored a bill with Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, to put that information online in an easy-to-read format. He would like to expand this to other agencies.
Benn’s interest in a legislative seat stems from his battles with state agencies over his in-home day care. He formed a coalition with other day care providers that successfully lobbied the Legislature to pass a bill on sensible day care inspections. Before the bill, the Department of Early Learning would conduct inspections and sometimes ask for changes that conflicted with local codes. He should be commended for taking the lead.
However, on other issues he doesn’t seem to have the depth of knowledge needed to be effective. He confessed to not knowing a great deal about the Riverpoint campus, which is an important asset to his district. Beyond cutting waste and inquiring about “where the money is going,” he hasn’t offered many specifics on issues he’d like to pursue.
McGlenn was recently laid off from his information technology job at Skils’kin, a nonprofit that assists the developmentally disabled. He proposes the usual Libertarian solutions to issues: lower taxes and smaller government. Though state government has undergone some serious budget-cutting, he still considers it “bloated.”
Riccelli is the pragmatic choice in this race and has earned re-election.