Veteran Democratic State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen faces a stiff challenge this year from Rep. Barbara Bailey, who has a strong Republican following based in Oak Harbor. But this is no time to replace the Chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Anyone who doesn’t think Haugen is important to South Whidbey should read her mailers and watch TV. Standing by her side is Matt Nichols, CEO of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, which has benefited tremendously as Haugen has steered state ferry construction work to smaller boat yards. Nichols Brothers just landed another ferry superstructure job, thanks in large part to Haugen.
We can also thank Haugen for helping Island Transit in numerous ways over the years, keeping our beloved free bus service rolling and growing, and for many other beneficial projects too numerous to list.
Bailey couldn’t get much done as a minority senator in the Senate. That’s how she spent all her time in the House, and Democratic control there kept her from implementing any of her vaguely stated cost-cutting desires.
With Bailey out of the way, her District 10 House seat is up for grabs. Republican Dave Hayes is a great guy, having served 21 years in the Navy including time spent at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Since then he’s been a police officer in a leadership position in Marysville, often involved in crafting crime-fighting legislation in Olympia. He would be a fine representative. Trouble is, the 10th District’s House delegation has included two Republican representatives for too long.
We need one 10th District Democrat in the House as that party is in control. A Republican can help move bipartisan legislation but has no chance at leadership. A Democrat in the mix could get more done, as exemplified by Clinton resident Dave Anderson’s productive few years in the Legislature. So our support goes to Hayes’ election foe, Democrat Tom Riggs, who lost two years ago. As a state park ranger on Camano Island, he can kick the Legislature in the pants for gutting State Parks funding. He also cares deeply about small business and jobs, he volunteers in the public schools, and does many other things to help his Camano Island community. He knows Whidbey well and could represent us effectively in Olympia. But either way, voters can’t make a wrong decision in this race.
The final 10th District spot should be kept by Republican Norma Smith, a former school board member on South Whidbey and one-time aide to the late Congressman Jack Metcalf. She is well liked wherever she goes, works hard, does her homework and genuinely cares about education and jobs. Her challenger, Langley barista Aaron Simpson, simply lacks the necessary experience.
A slate of Sen. Haugen, Rep. Smith and Rep. Riggs would serve Whidbey Island’s interests well in Olympia when the Legislature convenes in January.