The choice in the state House District 16 race is between a responsive, experienced legislator and a passionate opponent.
While we are extremely impressed with the enthusiasm of Gary Downing, a democrat from Kennewick, we are giving the nod to the candidate who already has proven his effectiveness in the state Legislature.
State Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton, has served the region with tact and integrity for seven years. We believe the clout and respect he has earned at the state level will allow him to accomplish even more for his constituents if he gets another crack at it.
Nealey is an attorney with farmer’s blood — a powerful combination that makes him credible in a variety of political circles. He can grasp the complexities of state budgets and taxes, while at the same time empathize with those still trying to run a family farm or keep a small shop open.
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One issue during Nealey’s past term that we disagreed with was his initial approach to handling abuses of the Washington Public Records Act.
Last spring, he lamented how newspaper lobbyists have thwarted attempts to rein in people whose unreasonable demands for public records end up crippling small government agencies.
We countered that we don’t like to see abuses to the public records law, either, but if Nealey wants reform, he should invite the media to the legislative drafting party from the get-go. We said that if lawmakers want our support, they need to ask for our input before — not after they write a bill limiting access to public records.
To his credit, Nealey listened.
Over the summer, the media, lawmakers and other stakeholders met to tackle the issue. This responsive attitude by Nealey is exactly the kind of collaborative spirit needed in the Legislature.
And we hope he can bring more of his cooperative skill next year when lawmakers must meet their deadline and figure out how to fund basic education.
The McCleary lawsuit has been hanging over the heads of legislators for years, and now they have run out of time. They must make some tough decisions next session.
Nealey already is up to speed on this complicated issue, which is important.
Downing, on the other hand, would have a very steep learning curve.
State politics is a big leap, and while we admire him for taking it, we would like him to have more experience in an elected office. The local or regional level would be a good place for him to start.
Downing is a quality candidate who recently retired after working 30 years in the maintenance department for the Richland School District. He is a blue-collar guy with a drive to help the underdog that we find impressive.
He also has the awareness to have his website and his printed campaign materials in English and Spanish, which shows his commitment to inclusion. Other candidates should take note.
Downing has a passion for increasing the minimum wage and helping the homeless and veterans. He wants a better life for the poor and struggling families. These are great sentiments and we hope he continues to push for them.
But this time around, we think a well-respected legislator who can pick up where he left off will serve the community better.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Terry Nealey for state representative, 16th District.
Look for our recommendation Sunday in the race for Franklin County commissioner between incumbent Brad Peck and Franklin County Auditor Matt Beaton