Battle for South King County swing legislative district

Natalie Brand reports

SEATTLE - Just one year after being elected to the State House during a special election, Representative Teri Hickel, R-30th District, is running again, hoping to be sent back to Olympia.

“It was very competitive last year, and it's competitive again,” Hickel said Tuesday, one week until Election Day.

Arguably, even more competitive given the presidential election year.

“I'm feeling great about this race,” said Democratic challenger Kristine Reeves, who led Hickel in the August primary by just 68 votes.

Reeves, who works for the State Department of Commerce, specifically in the military and defense sector, is running for office for the first time.

“After four years of being mandated by the Supreme Court to figure out how to fully fund education, I just felt like our leaders weren't getting it done,” said Reeves. “I have a two year old and a four year old. My son is going to be starting school here shortly."

“I know exactly what I’m doing,” counters Hickel. “The reason I decided to run was because of the inequity in education funding. I want to step up for us. So, I have plans for this part forward. I did the best I could last year, and now I have big plans for the next few years.

Education funding and complying with the McCleary decision will be the top challenge before the state legislature next year.

Talk of income tax has been an attack thrown around a lot this campaign season, so Reeves says she wants to set the record straight.

“Let me be clear I am not for a state income tax,” she told KING 5.  “I do think we need to have some serious and very hard conversations about how we're going to generate the right kind of revenue to solve this problem. I think that needs to include things like closing corporate tax loopholes.”

Hickel agrees there are some tax loopholes that should be looked at but says her funding plan centers around a levy swap.

“I want to just shift the reliance on local levies to the state. We're paying money in this bucket, let's shift some of those dollars to that bucket,” she said.

Reeves says she’s open to the conversation, but also has concerns about relying on a levy swap to fully solve the problem.  

While both candidates cite education as the key reason they're running, public safety and transportation are also listed as issues important to voters in the district.

“For me transportation investments that work for our community are really important. I also think again that building an economic base in South King County that's going to help drive investments in schools and transportation and other things is really important,” said Reeves.

Hickel says the number one issue she hears about is taxes.

“Our voters are so concerned about taxes. That's what I hear the most. They want a strong education system, we all do, but they want to make sure we have a good return on investment.” 

When asked why each candidate believes they're a better fit for the district, each played up their personal experience. 

"I have lived experience that better aligns with my district. I’m a young, working mom. My husband also works in the district," Reeves said. "As a family who has to have two full time jobs to put their kids into daycare and put their kids into school, and then relies on transportation to get in and out the district, I have a lived experience that's going to keep more of our district in mind." 

"I’ve been here for 27 years," responded Hickel. "Our district needs someone who knows the issues, who has been around for around a long time. I’ve been a volunteer, a parent; I’ve worked here, worked at chamber of commerce. I know our district and we need someone who has a good understanding. We’re very complex."

Related: President Obama endorses in state legislative races 

Copyright 2016 KING


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