Voters have two different candidates to choose from in the 9th District House race.
One is a conservative, freshman legislator who appears focused primarily on agricultural interests. The other calls herself a “progressive” and has a take on a variety of issues.
In this race, we would like to see what the challenger would bring to state politics and to our region. We support Jennifer Goulet of Pasco.
The 9th District extends from Othello to the southeastern corner of Washington, and includes west Pasco and rural Franklin County.
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It is geographically mostly farmland and the incumbent, Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, fits the agriculture demographic better than Goulet.
Dye and her husband are wheat farmers and she has been a political champion for agriculture for a number of years. She was an active party member and a Republican committeewoman for Garfield County before becoming a legislator.
She was appointed to represent the district in May 2015 after her predecessor resigned following an ethics violation. Dye ran for office last November and was officially elected to the post, so she just completed her first full legislative session this year.
While we know that it takes a while for a new lawmaker to figure out how to manage the Olympia machine, Dye appears only comfortable when discussing topics that relate to the business of farming.
On other issues, she seems less sure of herself, and we get the feeling she relies heavily on Republican Party leadership to guide her decisions. That’s not necessarily bad for a beginning legislator, but Dye’s seemingly passive nature makes us wonder how difficult it will be for her to become an independent thinker — a trait we think lawmakers should have.
On the other hand, Goulet appears to have backbone.
She is first vice chairwoman for the Franklin County Democrats and works at the HAMMER Federal Training Center in Richland.
She said she is not afraid to stand her ground if she finds herself at odds with the party line. For example, she said she is not as “anti-gun” as many other Democrats.
Goulet also said she was upset earlier this year when the Seattle City Council directed its utility company to move away from getting electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The ultimate goal is to close the state’s only nuclear energy generating station near Richland.
Goulet’s frustration over the Seattle’s anti-nuclear agenda is clearly apparent. We have been swayed, in part, by considering how valuable it would be to have someone with such passion from our area help promote nuclear energy in the Legislature, among other issues important to our community.
Her voice could be a huge asset for our region.
In addition, she already seems to have a fairly knowledgeable grasp of other concerns facing the state, like education funding and social justice issues.
Dye, so far, appears hesitant on topics outside her comfort zone.
We understand that Dye may be the candidate who rural 9th District constituents will trust. But we think Goulet would fight for farmers, as well as people living in the urban area of west Pasco.
Goulet could become a strong advocate for our region, and bring a perspective from Eastern Washington that needs to be better represented in the Legislature.
We think Goulet deserves a chance.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Jennifer Goulet for the state House of Representatives, District 9.