In the August primary, two candidates are challenging the newest legislator representing central Spokane.
But Libertarian Randy McGlenn II and Republican Tim Benn could have an uphill battle in the Democratic-leaning 3rd Legislative District against incumbent Marcus Riccelli.
Riccelli, a Democrat, gained political experience working as U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s Eastern Washington director as well as senior policy adviser to Lisa Brown, who was state Senate majority leader at the time, before he was elected in 2012.
Riccelli said that because he represents one of the poorest districts in the state, his priority is initiatives and policies that help families thrive including more funding for basic education, smaller class sizes in public schools and an unwavering support of a medical school in Spokane.
“I think of the election as a job interview and the 137,000 people I represent as my employers,” Riccelli said.
He serves as vice chairman of the Health Care and Wellness Committee and is a member of the Capital Budget and Transportation committees.
Born and raised in Spokane, Riccelli is a Mead High School graduate and holds a master’s degree in public administration from University of Washington. He is married to Amanda and they have two young children.
If re-elected, one of his top priorities is to secure funding for the last part of the North Spokane Corridor and he’s determined to find a way to fully fund education, estimating that may cost as much as $6 billion.
“We can find some of that money by closing tax loopholes,” Riccelli said, adding that it will take several biennials to squeeze that much money out of the state budget.
Gun control is a hot issue with two initiatives on the ballot for this fall. Riccelli said he does not want to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, but would like to stop criminals from having easy access to guns.
“I support expanding background checks,” he said, “but not a separate state registry.”
During his first term, Riccelli has worked to secure $71 million for the North Spokane Corridor, $11.8 million to expand NEWTECH Skill Center in Hillyard and more than $3 million for the MAC.For more information, visit Marcus Riccelli’s website.
Benn is running against Riccelli as an independent Republican.
“That means I’m Republican but I will go against the Republican vote if doing so benefits my constituents,” Benn said. He ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature, also as a Republican, in 2012.
Benn said he grew up in a hardworking family in Spokane and that he’s always been an entrepreneur – his first business was a yard service while he was still in school. He holds three associate’s degrees – in general business, management and marketing – from Spokane Community Colleges.
For the last 11 years, he has owned Little Precious Ones Childcare in northeast Spokane (in the Minnehaha neighborhood) together with his wife, Shannon. The couple have three children.
In 2013, he helped form the group Parents & Providers 4 Children together with other home day care providers who said that overregulation by The Department of Early Learning made it difficult or impossible for them to stay in business.
As for primary education, Benn said he believes public schools can do a better job with the funding already available.
“We have to do better getting our children ready for the 21st century,” he said. Benn supports charter schools, and is opposed to national education standards.
“I would like to see the education system work toward a more efficient and localized operating model,” Benn writes on www.votetimbenn.com.
Benn said it’s time to finish the North Spokane Corridor and to make sure transportation dollars are spent in parts of the state other than the West Side.
“Transportation is essential to business development,” he added.
When it comes to gun control, Benn said the best way to reduce gun violence is to strengthen families and increase health insurance coverage of mental illness because the main issue in recent shootings was the shooter’s mental health.
Randy McGlenn II
The third candidate in this race is McGlenn, one of three Libertarians in local legislative races.
McGlenn grew up in Spokane Valley and graduated from West Valley High School in 1994. He is unmarried and has no children. After high school, McGlenn spent four years in the military and returned to Spokane where he earned an associate degree in information technology from ITT Technical Institute. His last employer was Skils’kin, where McGlenn said he organized the outsourcing of the information technology department before he, too, was laid off.
“That is one of the primary reasons why I decided to get active in our government and make a positive impact,” McGlenn said, adding that he is saddened so many people have a difficult time finding jobs.
To stimulate job creation, McGlenn said the state must re-evaluate and restructure its tax system.
“It’s stacked against us,” he said, adding that he will not support any new taxes under any circumstances.
When it comes to education funding, McGlenn said too much money is being wasted on things that have nothing to do with education.
He said the public school system is antiquated and top-down.
“(It) is increasingly misaligned with the future challenges young Washingtonians will face,” he writes on www.mcglennforliberty.com.
He supports expansion of charter schools and wants parents – not politicians and bureaucrats – to be in charge of how education funding is spent locally.
On gun control, McGlenn believes the number of shootings and gun-related tragedies would go down if there were no restrictions on when and where people could be armed.
“Where there are few restrictions on firearms there is less crime,” McGlenn said.