Former state Rep. Leonard Christian joined incumbent state House Rep. Rob Chase on stage at the Bing Crosby Theater on Thursday night in a debate for the 4th Legislative District seat representing Spokane Valley.
Chase, who was Spokane County treasurer from 2011 to 2018, has held the seat since 2021. Christian formerly held the seat for a few months in 2014 when he was appointed by the Spokane County Commissioners to fill a vacancy.
Both are Republicans. Chase maintained a slight edge in the August primary election, holding 50% of the vote over Christian’s 46%.
The candidates disagreed on many topics, but both would not endorse abortion exceptions in instances of rape or incest. To tackle the problem of housing and homelessness, Christian wants to reform laws to allow for building more affordable housing. Chase said the market will work itself out: “It just takes time.”
They also talked about election integrity and whether it would be a good idea to form a new state.
Chase said he hears from his constituents that they do not trust their vote anymore. He questioned the integrity of voting machines, speculating on their vulnerabilities to hacking and tampering.
“If (the county auditor )is cheating, why are all the county spots Republicans?” Christian said.
Chase said it could happen without the auditor’s knowledge. “It’s so easy to hack into,” he said. “I think that happens quite a bit based on the outcomes.”
Christian said he has observed the election process, and though he does not believe it is perfect, it is secure. He called for an audit of one race in each precinct every two years, which would go a long way toward building trust in the system.
“The problem with casting doubt on our system is you are telling people not to vote because your vote is not important. That’s not true. Please vote. It will be counted,” Christian said.
Chase has supported legislation known as the Liberty State Proposal that would make a new state out of Eastern Washington.
“We’re disenfranchised on this side of the state,” Chase said, adding that he thinks it would be a good experiment, but it should be up to the voters to decide.
Christian said he would love to see Spokane at the center of its own conservative state, but it would be too costly.
“Reality is, please know we can’t afford that here in Spokane. We can’t afford to make our own state.”
He said it was a waste of time as a legislator when there are more important issues to be tackled.
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