An Oak Harbor resident is challenging incumbent Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island, for the state House representative of the 10th district.
Dave Paul, vice president for student affairs at Skagit Valley College, will run as a Democrat and said education is his top priority.
“I think education is critical to our economy,” he said. “And I think our country was built on strong public schools and colleges and universities.”
Paul said he is in favor of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, which found that the Legislature was not fulfilling its obligation to fully fund education.
School districts shouldn’t have to rely on levies passing to provide extracurricular activities because those are just as vital to basic education, he said.
If elected, Paul said he wants to work to strengthen the relationship between K-12 schools and trade schools, colleges and universities.
Hayes said he is seeking reelection and his number one focus will be on the opioid crises.
Among his recent accomplishments, he said, is securing funding for a diversion center in Everett for homeless individuals seeking treatment for addiction and mental health issues.
The center will also offer support in finding housing and employment.
The $800,000 budget allocation he helped secure will pay for the center’s operations for one year, Hayes said, but he added there’s more yet to be done.
“I’m certainly not done and I don’t think the state is nearly done on that issue,” he said.
Hayes, a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s office, said he hopes to make more investments on the law enforcement side of the opioid problem.
Paul said he also wants to focus on the opioid problem, especially where it intersects with mental health and homelessness. He supports more community-based treatment centers and was in favor of the diversion center in Everett.
Paul differs from Hayes when it comes to gun legislation.
Paul said he is “disappointed” in Hayes’ vote against the bump stock ban, which passed and was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.
“There’s a common sense proposal that Rep. Hayes could’ve supported that would’ve shown he has concern for gun safety,” said Paul.
Hayes said he wants to address gun safety in different ways, such as adding more school resource officers, creating a gun offender registry and increasing reporting and notification requirements for individuals who don’t pass background checks.
“I don’t think that banning an accessory on a firearm is going to make safer communities,” Hayes said.
An additional step the state could take would be to raise the age requirement to buy an assault-style weapon to 21, Paul said.
Paul said he is undecided whether assault-style guns should be banned altogether.
Overall, Paul said his experience in education — on school boards, as an educator and as an administrator — qualify him for the state representative position. He also said his ability to work together with diverse groups of people will serve him well in the politically divided Legislature.
“I think it’s important that we recognize that the reason folks can get so passionate about issues is because they care about how they affect their families and their communities,” he said.
“When you start looking at the underlying interests oftentimes you can find common ground.”