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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Wandler to challenge Kretz as an independent

May 14, 2020 Updated Thu., May 14, 2020 at 9:50 p.m.

A Mead resident who owns a Seattle restaurant and has operated Spokane eateries filed this week to run for the Legislature in Eastern Washington’s vast 7th District.

JJ Wandler, 49, filed as an independent to challenge eight-term Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, saying he thinks both Republicans and Democrats have some liabilities in the current political climate.

“I’ve always been kind of politically involved,” said Wandler, who co-owns Gainsbourg in Seattle. “Just posting opinions on social media is kind of an empty gesture.”

He wants to work on better health care and push for a state bank, which could help legal marijuana businesses that have a hard time setting up accounts at traditional banks because of federal regulations. He’s also interested in helping people recover from the COVID-19 epidemic and the unemployment it is causing.

The Legislature is facing a loss of some $7 billion in tax revenue from the economic downturn and Wandler said the Legislature should consider some of the state’s richest residents to pay more through some sort of “wealth tax.” If that runs into constitutional restrictions on an income tax, the Legislature might have to consider changing the constitution, he said.

“These are different times and it’s going to take some real figuring out,” Wandler said.

He acknowledged it could be difficult to make it through the primary as an independent if a Democrat gets into the race, although as of Thursday evening he and Kretz were the only two candidates in the race. The district is solidly Republican; Kretz and other GOP incumbents sometimes run unopposed.

“I’m not going to make a difference if I don’t try,” Wandler said.

Candidates have until 4 pm. Friday to file for a range of county, legislative and judicial offices up for election this year.

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