A former Spokane mayoral candidate who ran against Mayor David Condon in 2015 has now set her sights on the Washington Legislature.
Democratic candidate Shar Lichty is aiming to replace incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Holy, who represents the 6th Legislative District covering the West Plains and western Spokane.
Lichty, a community organizer with the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, said a top priority if elected would be finding a way to fully fund K-12 education without cutting social services.
“We have to come up with a way to fund education and preserve those services,” she said.
She also supports a single-payer health care system for the state, reducing higher-education costs, gender pay equity and an increase in the minimum wage. She said she plans to seek appointment on the House Finance Committee if elected.
“I’m passionate about a lot of social justice issues and economic issues, and they’re all kind of tied together by this thread of revenue,” she said.
Holy hopes to be re-elected to continue to strive for economic and industrial development in the area, facilitating the growth of a living-wage employment base, rather than artificially inflating the minimum wage, he said.
“I want to make Spokane the type of place where opportunity exists and people come to Spokane because opportunity exists,” he said. “That’s been my goal since my first day in office.”
The Spokane area boasts several colleges and universities, but many graduating students can’t find adequate work here and move to other cities. Holy wants to create a business-friendly environment and an economy that can support multiple generations.
“Our greatest economic loss is talent flight,” he said. “I intend to stop that bleeding.”
Holy, who has lived in Spokane for 32 years, also wants to focus on public safety, crafting a sustainable budget and looking for “innovative ways to both provide and streamline health care in our state,” according to his campaign website.
He is an Army veteran who spent 22 years with the Spokane Police Department, and a graduate of Washington State University and Gonzaga Law School. He said he’s a good fit for public office because he has worked for all three branches of government – as a police officer, then a lawyer and, finally, a legislator – and is well-practiced at seeing all sides of an issue.
“It takes my A-game every day to keep up on this stuff,” he said. “That’s why I love what I’m doing. It’s one of those things that demands the best out of me.”
Lichty, a graduate of Eastern Washington University and former special education classroom assistant, said her community organizing experience, alongside her social work degree, make her more qualified to do the job in Olympia than her opponent.
“I know how to work across the aisle and get things done,” she said. “I have relationships in the community.”
Lichty, who has lived in Eastern Washington for 20 years, grew up in a household with a range of political ideals, and she said being the lone progressive gave her the ability to have respectful dialogue.
“We need to move past strong partisan politics,” she said.
In the August primaries, Holy came in first, landing 57.2 percent of the vote, while Lichty won 42.9 percent.
Holy first won his current seat in 2012 after overcoming a second-place finish in the primary to Spokane Democrat Dennis Dellwo. In the 2014 primary race, his sole competition was a write-in candidate who won 1.8 percent of the vote.
Holy said he hopes Republicans can take the lead in the next session following the Nov. 8 general election and have more say in the direction Washington takes moving forward.
“We’re so close to majority,” he said. “When you are in the minority in the Legislature, in most cases, you are just along for the ride.”
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