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Sunday, October 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Re-elect all three Democratic 3rd District incumbents

In Washington’s 3rd Legislative District, three incumbents are asking voters for another term. We recommend voters oblige them. Sen. Andy Billig, Rep. Marcus Riccelli and Rep. Timm Ormsby have done well by the district, and their opponents don’t offer compelling reasons to change course.

The geographically small but densely populated 3rd District includes most of the city of Spokane. For a district far-removed from the Puget Sound region, the delegation has secured outsized power by winning leadership positions in their respective caucuses. That’s not something voters should cast aside lightly.

The biggest knock against them applies to all three: They aren’t as supportive of business as the district needs them to be. Too often they support economy-hindering laws and regulations pushed by Puget Sound lawmakers who little understand the needs of the rest of the state.

Nevertheless, the good they do for the district is undeniable.

Senate: Andy Billig

The case for re-electing Billig is simple: He’s the Senate Majority Leader and serves on the Senate Ways & Means Committee that oversees the budget. He therefore can make sure Puget Sound lawmakers don’t forget about Spokane and Eastern Washington.

Will he have the same clout next year? Almost certainly. The reality is that Republicans have a vanishingly small chance of taking over the Senate. That means at a minimum, Billig would be a senior member of the majority party again.

Billig hasn’t wasted his position. Just in the past few years, he helped secure funding for Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd Medical School and transportation projects like the North Spokane Corridor freeway.

His opponent, Republican Dave Lucas, is a 21-year Marine Corps veteran who retired as a Lt. Colonel. His military service no doubt honed his leadership skills, but he has no experience in elected office. He ran for a House seat in the district two years ago and lost. If he wins this time, he wouldn’t have much power in the Senate as a freshman member of the minority party.

Voters should re-elect Billig.

Position 1: Marcus Riccelli

Riccelli has held this seat since 2012 and has been a champion for education and health care. He counts among his accomplishments a lead role in securing permission for Washington State University to open a medical school. He also worked with a group of lawmakers on a bill to provide breakfasts to more schoolchildren.

In the House, he has served as majority whip, a leadership position that helps him keep Eastern Washington’s needs in the fore.

His opponent, Laura Carder, often runs for office and just as often loses. She’s a GOP insider who isn’t raising serious money for the campaign. Her messaging is muddled, too. For example, in the Voters’ Guide, she states, “I’m mostly both pro-life and pro-choice.” Huh? Some of her other views are even dangerous, such as opposition to sensible measures the state has taken to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Riccelli has been a good fit for his district, and the alternative is lacking. Voters should send him back to Olympia.

Position 2: Timm Ormsby

Ormsby is the elder statesman of the 3rd District, first taking office in 2003. His tenure and skill earned him the chairmanship of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. In that role, he has ensured that Eastern Washington gets a fair slice of state spending.

Budget influence aside, Ormsby has been a strong proponent of education, especially technical education as a path to employment. He also devotes attention to supporting mental health and social services. Those remain critical needs as Spokane, and all of Washington, grapple with a homelessness crisis that is in no small part the result of people in need of help being unable to find it.

His opponent, Republican Bob Apple, at least has some political experience. He served on Spokane City Council from 2003 to 2012. But that’s about all he has going for him. He’s bounced between the major political parties, running for the Legislature once before as a Republican and twice as a Democrat. He isn’t fundraising for his long-shot campaign.

Someday it will be time to send a fresh face to Olympia over Ormsby, but that first will require a stronger candidate than he faces this year.

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