Tri-Cities area voters will help decide two state House races that pit incumbent Republicans against Democratic challengers.
Rep. Mary Dye faces Jenn Goulet in the Ninth Legislative District, which covers Adams, Asotin, Garfield, Whitman and parts of Franklin and Spokane counties.
And Rep. Bill Jenkin faces Everett Maroon in the 16th Legislative District, covering Columbia, Walla Walla and parts of Benton and Franklin counties.
Ballots have been mailed and are due by Nov. 6.
Dye v. Goulet
Dye was appointed to the Ninth District seat in 2015 and won election the following year — against Goulet — to keep the post.
She co-manages a wheat farm near Pomeroy.
The Republican serves on the House’s environment, capital budget and appropriations committees, and she’s worked hard to advocate for the largely rural communities that make up her district, she told the Herald.
She passed legislation to develop broadband in rural areas and she’s worked to expand irrigated agriculture and sustain water supplies, she said.
“I came into office to serve as a citizen legislator. It’s something that gives my life purpose and meaning,” she said. “I really am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to hone my network and figure out the system so I can be effective. I’m looking forward to serving this next term.”
Goulet, a Democrat from Pasco who develops online training for Microsoft, said she will fight to protect constituents’ health care, to make higher education more affordable and to increase economic opportunity.
She’ll also continue work to expand broadband access, but will make sure it’s competitive and affordable, she said, adding that Dye’s legislation “basically grants a monopoly.” She’ll also work on getting cell towers into parts of the district where dead zones abound, Goulet told the Herald.
She said she’s frustrated with the current political system.
“Things aren’t getting done because of partisan bickering and corporate influence,” Goulet said. “The super wealthy and corporations are using money to influence, and lobbyists are writing our laws at the expense of the people.”
But she will “put the needs of the actual human beings first,” instead of corporations and special interest, and will advocate for small business, she said.
“I want to be part of change and a force for good,” she said.
Jenkin v. Maroon
Jenkin, a Prosser Republican, has a business background — as a financial adviser and winery owner. And he spent three years on the Prosser School Board, including two years as president, before winning his House seat in 2016.
One of his priorities is economic growth, he said, noting that he’s worked to support business by passing legislation that cut down on some regulations.
He also pointed to education and agriculture as priorities, saying he’ll push for more local control of schools and to strengthen farmers’ water rights.
“I’m a community guy. I was always totally immersed in the community here in Prosser,” he said. “(I thought), ‘If I can be a community guy throughout the entire district and be able to help the entire community, why won’t that work?’
“I’m learning how to be a politician. But if you have the community ideals in the back of your mind, I think that’s the best of both worlds.”
Maroon, a Walla Walla Democrat, has “20-plus years experience trying to understand how to make government better” and a “strong dedication to the people of the district and representative government,” he said.
And that will serve him well in Olympia, he said.
Maroon is executive director of Blue Mountain Heart to Heart, a healthcare-focused nonprofit. He previously worked for the Social Security Administration.
He’ll work in the legislature to improve health care, he said, adding that it shouldn’t be partisan issue. He also wants to see Washington test a college tuition remission program, as some other states have in place.
“I’ve been so humbled and honored to go through this election cycle. It makes me feel good to have talked to so many people, to have heard their stories and to see how much agreement we really have,” he said. “We have so much promise — as a regional community, a state, a country.
“I wish we could go off these really divisive talking points and go to work.”