Two Republicans and a Democrat are running for the 9th Legislative District seat vacated by Susan Fagan.
Mary Dye of Pomeroy was appointed to the position in May after Fagan resigned amid allegations of ethics violations. Dye was the winner in a vote of commissioners from Franklin and five other counties in the 9th District.
Fellow Republican Richard Lathim, the former Franklin County sheriff, is challenging her after being named as the top choice when GOP precinct committee officers in the district met to select nominees for the county commissioners to consider.
The 9th District extends from Othello to the southeastern corner of Washington, and includes west Pasco and rural Franklin County.
The two candidates who receive the most votes in the Aug. 4 primary advance to the general election, regardless of their party preference. The general election winner will serve the remaining year of Fagan’s term and draw a salary of $45,474, which will go up to $46,839 in September 2016.
Lathim has raised $9,196 for his campaign, including two $950 contributions from Law Enforcement Administrators of Washington, plus several donations from farmers. Dye has raised $5,250, including a $5,000 loan. Caylor filed forms with the state Public Disclosure Commission saying he planned to raise $5,000 or less, which does not require full reporting.
Not much separates Dye and Lathim politically and philosophically, Lathim said.
“The difference is life experience,” he said.
His 37 years in law enforcement give him broader life experience, from doing shift work to seeing parts of society that his opponents may not be aware of, he said.
As Franklin County sheriff for 28 years until losing re-election in November, he managed a staff of about 80 — including members of four different unions — and handled a $9 million budget, he said.
The district has a large population base in west Pasco, and that base should be represented in the Legislature, he said.
Franklin County and the western portion of Adams County are different than the rest of the district, both in their education systems and agricultural base, he said.
While agriculture for much of the district means growing wheat and lentils, Franklin County is the fifth-largest dairy producer in the state, and irrigation allows the growing of row crops, orchards, wine and blueberries, he said.
Pasco, North Franklin County and Othello schools have cultural and socioeconomic challenges unique to the west side of the district, he said.
He also would bring law enforcement management experience to the Legislature, where no police chiefs or sheriffs currently serve, he said. As sheriff, he was in frequent communication with county commissioners and Pasco and Connell officials, giving him practical knowledge about how local government operates and interacts with state government.
He’s seen firsthand the struggles caused by unfunded mandates by the state to local governments, he said.
Government’s responsibility is for schools and providing a safe place to raise a family, which attracts business. Business’ role is to create jobs, he said.
The state needs to be careful about adding to the tax burden, keeping the state competitive with Idaho and Oregon taxes to attract business.
Dye is a partner and business manager in her family’s third-generation wheat farm, but is better known for her leadership in the Republican party.
As an active party member for 25 years and the state Republican committeewoman for Garfield County, she has helped many candidates get elected.
She organized a grassroots committee of farmers that drafted the white paper on freedom to farm, which became the basis for a federal bill passed in 1995, she said. It helped move farmers away from direct subsidies to a subsidized insurance program for catastrophic events.
In 2012, she was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and the committee she co-chaired drafted the energy, natural resources and agricultural policies for candidate Mitt Romney.
“I’ve always been a creator and innovator in the way I look at government,” she said.
She understands that the way to move projects forward politically is through relationships and motivating people based on what they want to accomplish, she said, and she’s good at finding solutions.
In her weeks in the Legislature, she discussed issues with Pasco officials, including attracting new food processors.
She voted against the transportation package, even though it included money for the Lewis Street overpass.
The state has not had a major transportation package for a decade and it should have waited one more year, she said. She’d prefer to tackle transportation projects in smaller pay-as-you-go pieces, rather than the bond in place now that requires borrowing money for 30 years, she said.
It would have been a good time to re-examine how transportation is paid for in the state, she said. But with the bill passed, she will fight to make sure that the money for the overpass project is not diverted to other projects, and that the project is not slowed by unnecessary regulatory requirements.
The 9th District is a productive agricultural and manufacturing region and the state needs to stay ahead of its infrastructure needs, she said. The state must make access to shipping ports and trade channels a priority so the region can participate in the global market. Seeing small towns revitalized is another favorite cause.
Caylor brings knowledge of both sides of the state to the 9th District, after living in Snohomish County for 20 years. That gives him an open mind about state issues, he said.
He’s familiar with regional issues after serving as the Adams County state Democratic committeeman and as co-chair of the state platform and resolution committee for a decade. He was Othello Citizen of the Year in 2012.
He’s retired from the construction trade, which gives him knowledge of building and infrastructure. Serving on the Othello City Council for eight years through 2013 means he knows the issues and growing pains of the small cities of the 9th District, he said.
The state needs to help more with roads, sewers and water systems for small communities, he said. He believes small communities are shorted in the distribution of money.
Agriculture is a key issue for the district, he said. He’s worked with the farm community and owns a small honey business.
Completing more of the Columbia Basin Project would help replenish groundwater and help small cities that depend on the aquifer, he said.
He’s also familiar with tourism from his work on the Coulee Corridor Consortium, a scenic byway project. The Legislature needs to do more to promote tourism, the fourth-largest revenue generator in the state of Washington, he said.
His experience outweighs that of his opponents, he said. He would bring a thoughtful approach to the Legislature, weighing the facts on both sides before making the best decision.