Lifelong South Whidbey resident Helen Price Johnson wants to change her title from Island County commissioner to state senator.
While the 2020 election is well over a year away, Clinton resident Price Johnson, a Democrat, announced her intention this week to run for the 10th legislative district senate seat currently held by Oak Harbor resident Barbara Bailey, a Republican.
Bailey didn’t return a call for comment on whether she plans to run again. Price Johnson didn’t return a call to discuss her announcement.
As a former South Whidbey School Board member and a county commissioner in her third term, she has had the opportunity to see first-hand how decisions made in Olympia — from unfunded mandates to land-use laws to much more — affect local government.
In a press release, Price Johnson promised to bring her “community-focused leadership and bipartisan experience to Olympia.”
“State government needs to rethink its one-size-fits-all legislation regarding taxes, housing and small business,” she said in the press release. “Our rural communities need common sense solutions that create family wage jobs, economic opportunities while protecting the environment and our quality of life.”
Price Johnson was the first woman elected as a county commisioner; now all three commissioners are women.
Price Johnson is past president of the Washington State Association of Counties and worked with county commissioners of both parties to address local government concerns, according to her press release.
She pointed out that she and her family have owned and operated a small business on South Whidbey for many years. One of the focuses of her announcement is on small business.
“Huge corporations lobby to get tax breaks and regulatory loopholes, making small businesses carry an unfair burden, with oversized mandates and burdensome reporting requirements,” she said. “Small business is the engine for jobs and economic growth, and our main street businesses form the backbone of resilience for our small towns. They need a stronger voice in Olympia.”
Before Bailey, the seat was held by Camano Democrat Mary Margaret Haugen, who was the powerful chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, steered transportation funds to Island County and was a key figure in historic legislation over her many years in Olympia.
Price Johnson once described Haugen as a mentor.