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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Longtime state Sen. Andy Billig faces GOP challenge from Marine Corps veteran Dave Lucas

Sept. 8, 2020 Updated Wed., Oct. 7, 2020 at 11:04 p.m.

Republican Dave Lucas, left, is challenging state Sen. Andy Billig.
Republican Dave Lucas, left, is challenging state Sen. Andy Billig.
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Republican Dave Lucas is presenting himself as a choice for people who want change in Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District, where he is running against Majority Leader and incumbent Sen. Andy Billig, a Democrat.

Lucas said he believes all the 3rd Legislative District legislators need to go.

“They do not follow what the people push forward,” he said. “They do what they want. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. We’ve got the poorest district in the state. It’s not a new thing. They’ve all been in there more than a decade. What have they done?”

Billig said he’s running for re-election for the same reason he had when he first ran back in 2010.

“I see a lot of need in our community,” he said. “I want to be able to help provide opportunity and prosperity to the people of Spokane.”

Lucas has not previously served in an elected position. He ran against Rep. Timm Ormsby in 2018, receiving 39% of the vote to Ormsby’s 61%. Lucas said he chose to run for the Senate seat this year because he believed he would get more assistance from the Republican Party.

“What I found last time was there wasn’t a lot of support on the House side, but there was on the Senate side,” he said. “The Senate Republican Caucus was much more organized.”

He’s a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who now spends most of his time volunteering and working with community groups. He is chairman of the Rockwood Neighborhood Council, sits on the Inland Northwest Boy Scout Council executive board, is a Knights of Columbus Council treasurer and served on the Spokane Veteran’s Affairs Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Committee.

Billig arrived in Spokane in 1992 to be the general manager for the Spokane Indians.

He planned to be here a few years at most.

“I fell in love with the community and decided to make my life here,” he said.

He’s now a co-owner and executive with the team, but he’s worked part time since he was first elected to office in 2010. Billig served in the state House of Representatives for two years, then ran for Lisa Brown’s Senate seat when she retired. He’s served two terms and is hoping voters will approve a third.

Lucas said he believes the Legislature should have had a special session by now to deal with the budget shortfall as the result of sales tax revenue lost because of business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My opponent is sitting on his hands,” he said. “They’re not calling a special session. The budget crisis is worsening by the day.”

Billig said he’s heard many people call for a special session and said he thinks one could still happen, particularly after the state revenue forecast is released later this month.

“We have to balance to the revenue forecast,” he said. “It’s better to do it right than do it fast. Most of what the state does is vital public services.”

Budget cuts will have to be made, but having the forecast will guide the process, Billig said. “We should do it when we have all the information before us,” he said.

Lucas said several budget proposals have been made and should be considered.

“I don’t agree with all of them, but do something,” Lucas said. “Leading requires actions, and what we’re seeing now is no action, or inaction.”

He’d like to see economic development zones and tax breaks to help businesses weather the pandemic. More needs to be done to encourage job growth, particularly in the 3rd District, he said.

“As I walk around the neighborhood, people are struggling,” Lucas said.

The community needs to recover from both the pandemic and the economic issues caused by closed businesses, Billig said.

“We need to continue our health recovery and have a sustained and robust recovery that helps everyone succeed,” he said. “One positive we may be able to get out of this, as we rebuild, is that we do it better than it was before.”

Lucas also takes issues with a sex education bill, which Billig co-sponsored, that was approved by the Legislature.

In July he sent out a mailer to voters making several claims about the bill that were labeled as false or mostly false in a fact-checking article in The Spokesman-Review.

Lucas said he thinks the article was one-sided and he stands by the assertions he made in the mailer.

He said he also dislikes the sex education bill because it takes local control away from the school districts.

Billig said that under the bill, districts are able to maintain local control and can choose among several options. In fact, Spokane Public Schools, which covers the 3rd District, had already undergone a lengthy process, including getting community input, before approving new sex education curriculum.

“Spokane Public Schools went through this process,” he said. “They already arrived at a curriculum that meets the requirements of the bill.”

Billig said he’s proudest of his work on voting access and education issues over the years, particularly early childhood education.

“The priority that exists, too, is breaking the cycle of poverty,” he said. “That’s one reason I’ve been so focused on education, particularly early childhood education, because it can break the cycle.”

Billig said he’s proud that a large percentage of his campaign donations come from small, local donors.

“I work for the people of Spokane,” he said. “I’m honored to have their support. I’m committed to helping everyone in Spokane to achieve their fullest potential. I have the experience and the work ethic to deliver results for our community.”

Lucas has collected substantially fewer campaign donations than Billig, but said that doesn’t deter him.

“We’re not going to win on money,” he said. “He’s the majority leader. We’re going to win on ideals and principles.”

 (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

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