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District 26: Incumbent Sen. Emily Randall, Rep. Jesse Young face off in debate

Democratic incumbent Sen. Emily Randall is facing a challenge from Republican Rep. Jesse Young in the most expensive legislative race in the state.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Democratic incumbent Sen. Emily Randall is being challenged by Republican Rep. Jesse Young in the race for District 26 - the most expensive legislative race in Washington state.

Combined, they have raised more than $1.4 million to date, with spending topping $568,000 heading into the primary.

Randall and Young faced off in a debate Saturday afternoon at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton, organized by Braver Angels

Braver Angel surveyed voters in the districts to gauge the issues most important to residents in this election. The survey identified inflation, crime, democracy and the environment as the topics. Inflation was identified as being the most important to voters.

The debate moderator asked both candidates how they plan to help families absorb the rising cost of living in the opening question.

"One of the policies that we've already passed and just finally funded this year is the working families tax credit that helps to flip our upside-down tax code. It puts a higher amount of pressure on the lowest-income Washingtonians and continuing to expand programs like that are incredibly important," said Randall.

Young said the solution is "quite simple" and said he would move to repeal the gas tax that's coming in January.

"We should never put that type of tax burden on a struggling working-class economy when the economy is taking the inflationary hit that it is right now," said Young.

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Crime was the second most important issue facing voters according to the Braver Angles survey.

Randall said the legislature has more to do and that she believes in making sure law enforcement has the tools to pursue individuals who are committing violent or dangerous crimes.

“I'm proud to be endorsed by our Kitsap County Sheriff John Gese and I've worked with law enforcement and been on countless ride-alongs for hours, trying to best understand what the tools are that we need to address rising crime,” said Randall. “The reason I voted for the first repeal of high-speed chases, was because the data shows us that more often than not, they lead to bystander deaths. Like the deaths of two of my colleagues’ parents who died in a police car chase as bystanders. We have more to do and I've been talking to the fraternal order of police and to the sheriff's officers about what the right solution is.”

Young said, if elected, he would move to repeal the bill that prohibited police pursuits in the state.

“Democrats Sheriff John Gese gave her an endorsement, but what she didn't note is that she has none of the endorsements from the major police unions in the state. That's because the FOP and WA cops have all endorsed me because I will publicly stand up for our police and I will never say like she has said that blue lives don't exist,” said Young.

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Randall said in her candidate statement that she is committed to making her community a better place to live and work. Randall touted her accomplishments in lowering costs for families by cutting the Tacoma Narrows toll. Randall has been endorsed by Congressman Derek Kilmer, Kitsap County Sheriff John Gese, Bremerton and South Kitsap Firefighters, American Federation of Teachers Washington and assumed office in 2019.

Young, the district's representative since 2014, is running to provide a "thriving economy, transparent government, and the right to be safe from crime and fear" according to his candidate statement. Young also used his candidate statement to call out Randall and said her "radical policies" have diminished residents' opportunities.

District 26 includes portions of Kitsap County including Bremerton and Port Orchard, south to Gig Harbor and Lakebay in Pierce County.

All 98 seats in the House are up for election, as are 25 of the 49 in the Senate. Of the 123 total legislative races, there are 29 incumbents running unopposed. In 42 seats, there are only two candidates running, all of whom automatically advanced to the November ballot. 

Democrats currently hold a 28-21 advantage in the Senate, and a 57-41 advantage in the House.

Watch: How votes are counted in Washington state

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