Candidates hoping to represent southeastern Washington’s 9th Legislative District include an incumbent who was appointed just 10 weeks ago, a former sheriff of nearly three decades, and a 76-year-old Democrat with a background in construction.
Rep. Mary Dye was appointed to the position in May for the final negotiations of this year’s marathon legislative session. She filled a vacancy left by Susan Fagan, who resigned a week earlier amid allegations of ethics violations.
Dye, R-Pomeroy, now faces two challengers in the August primary election: Republican Richard Lathim, a former Franklin County sheriff, and Democrat Kenneth Caylor, a former Othello City Council member.
A special election for the 9th District seat was called after Fagan resigned in the middle of her term. The district encompasses Adams, Asotin, Franklin, Garfield and Whitman counties and part of southern Spokane County.
Dye, 53, has a bachelor’s degree in plant science and crop management from the University of Idaho. She and her husband operate a wheat farm near Pomeroy, Washington, and she has been involved in Republican Party politics for the past two decades.
“I have a broad connection to farming communities across the district,” Dye said. “I have a lot of support.”
Dye (pictured, left) acknowledged there was little room at the table for her during legislative budget negotiations. But she was able to help secure funding that will be used to design a Plant Sciences Building on Washington State University’s Pullman campus.
“I think that overall we came to a reasonable budget in light of the challenges we faced,” she said.
Lathim, 59, of Pasco, also was nominated for the appointment to the 9th District seat in May but received support from just three of the 17 eligible county commissioners.
Lathim was the Franklin County sheriff for 28 years but was defeated last November by longtime Pasco police Sgt. Jim Raymond. A lifelong Franklin County resident, Lathim served in law enforcement for 37 years.
“I had 80 employees and managed a $9 million budget, and I did that for 28 years,” he said. “I had to make a lot of decisions, and I never worried what effect those decisions might have on my next election.”
Lathim (pictured, left) said he wants to curb the authority of state agencies like the Department of Ecology, which he said hinders local farmers with stringent regulations. He said he wants to do “whatever I can do to keep the government in check.”
“I want to make sure that we hold the line on taxes,” he said.
Caylor, 76, faces tough odds running as a Democrat in the overwhelmingly Republican district. He ran against the late Republican Rep. Steve Hailey in 2008 and lost with 40 percent of the ballots cast.
“I just think I can help out in Olympia and maybe get things done for the 9th (District),” he said. “I’ve lived on both sides of the state. I know what’s going on there and how things work.”
Caylor (pictured, left) studied construction engineering at Washington State College in 1956 but left early to pursue work. He supervised high-rise and industrial work in Seattle for the now-defunct company Baugh Construction. He operates a small beekeeping business at his home in Othello, where he served on the city council from 2005 to 2013.
Caylor, a member of the Coulee Corridor Consortium, said he’s especially concerned about water rights in the Columbia Basin and on the Snake River. He also wants to improve roads and infrastructure across the region, even if tax hikes are necessary to do so, he said.
“Nobody likes taxes,” he said. “But how else are you going to do it? Somebody’s got to pay for it at some point.”
Caylor said he’s “hoping to at least make it to the primaries, and then I’ll see where I go from there.”
The primary voting period began Friday. Ballots are due Aug. 4.
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