Jacquelin Maycumber is trying to follow an established pattern in the 7th District of moving from legislative assistant to legislator.
Her boss Shelly Short, whom Maycumber replaced early this year when Short was appointed to the Senate, made the switch in 2009 as an assistant to Rep. Joel Kretz. Perhaps the district’s most famous legislator, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, made the move from assistant to representative in 1993 after her boss, Rep. Bob Morton, was appointed to the Senate.
Maycumber, of Republic, knows the district’s issues and the legislative personalities after eight years working in Short’s Olympia and district offices.
“It’s huge honor, and a big part of that is serving six counties,” she said of her appointment.
Standing in Maycumber’s way for keeping that job, however, is Susan Swanson, of Omak, who is trying to be the first Democrat the northeastern Washington district has sent to the House of Representatives since the first Bush administration.
After some 30 years as a federal employee who was restricted from political activity by the Hatch Act, Swanson said she vowed to change that the first chance she got. When she and her husband moved to Yakima after retiring and serving in posts all over the country with the Defense Department and Navy Department, she got involved. She served as a precinct committee officer and county party official there, then as a state committeewoman and now Okanogan County chairwoman after they moved to Omak, where her husband is school district superintendent.
“As a veteran and a retired federal servant, when you’re called up, you step up to the plate,” she said.
At 11,000 square miles, the ballpark is bigger than some states. Although the district is heavily Republican, Swanson hopes to break the party’s lock on legislative seats by trying something different in their choice of lawmakers to send to Olympia, to deal with Democrats who control the House.
“I’m a voice of reason that can say, ‘Let me tell you why this doesn’t work for Eastern Washington,’ ” she said.
If the House had more rural Democrats, Swanson contends, the Legislature might have avoided its stalemate over the 2017-19 capital construction budget. It didn’t get final approval because Senate Republicans demanded the Legislature approve a change to water rights law to address a recent Supreme Court decision.
“They should not hold an unrelated issue hostage,” she said. “I think I can make inroads there.”
But Maycumber said the court’s decision must be repealed through legislation and water rights law “put back the way it was.” As she drives around the enormous district, that court decision and the economy seem to be the biggest issues on voters’ minds. Right now, the district’s biggest export is its children, who leave to find work elsewhere, she said.
“We need to make sure our children have something to come home to,” she said.
The district often has some of the highest unemployment rates in the state, and Maycumber said the Legislature needs to find ways to attract manufacturing and other businesses. Better infrastructure, more reasonable regulations and more favorable tax rates would help, she said.
“They’re going to have to be able to stay and not be taxed out,” she said.
Swanson believes the state needs to spend more of its capital budget in the district, something that comes closer to a share that reflects it is one of 49 districts. It also needs to recognize the differences between urban and rural communities and help rural school districts develop opportunities for their students that “work with what we have.”
The 7th District doesn’t have Boeing, she said, but it does have culinary and agricultural industries, and the state should step up with money for career and technical education as federal money drops.
Whoever wins in November will serve in next year’s short session and may run for re-election next fall.
What’s the single most important thing the Legislature should do next year to reduce unemployment in Northeastern Washington?
Equalize the B&O tax rates for all manufacturers to the low rates for Boeing.
Reach out to every community and determine how to bring capital budgets and spend tax dollars to help the economy.
Do you support a proposal to split Washington and create a new state at the Cascade Crest?
Thinks there would be some benefits.
Do you support current protocols by the Wolf Advisory Group to control wolf populations in the region?
Has concerns that more needs to be done about wolf-human interactions.
Thinks protocols have been successful so far and supports them.
What changes, if any, should the Legislature pass to address a Supreme Court decision on water rights and development?
Should pass legislation to repeal the decision.
Wants to bring people together to come up with changes that help everyone.
Do you support the changes to the public school system to address the McCleary decision?
Has concerns about rural areas that will see an increase in taxes but not a corresponding increase in funding.
Does not support the increase in property taxes. Legislature should have first gone through the budget and eliminated “pork.”
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.