The Daily News editorial board recommends Richard DeBolt for state representative for the 20th Legislative District.
In our current highly divisive political climate, finding Republican and Democratic candidates who agree more than they disagree seems unlikely. But that’s exactly what we found with the two candidates for the 20th District legislative seat — incumbent Richard DeBolt and challenger John Thompson, of Silver Lake.
Even when the two candidates disagree, neither seems to resort to the mudslinging or name calling common in other races, but rather focus on the issues.
It was a refreshing change to the political discourse we’ve witnessed, especially this most recent election cycle. But that camaraderie also made it difficult for us to say one candidate was significantly better than the other. We couldn’t say one was “good” and the other “bad.” Rather, both candidates had good points to make and both support issues worthy of legislative consideration and action.
Both DeBolt and Thompson said they support protecting landowner water rights; both want to bring broadband internet into rural areas and see it as vital to the development of those areas, and both agree that more needs to be done to address critical shortages in healthcare.
In fact, when asked to name his top three priorities for the next legislative session, DeBolt named broadband access and water rights among them. DeBolt third top priority was localizing treatment options and other resources for dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues.
By comparison, Thompson’s top priorities were the need for infrastructure, especially along the Interstate 5 corridor, addressing issues with fish culverts and their impact on native fish species, and improving access to medical providers in underserved areas.
Both candidates said they are opposed to Initiative 1631, the proposed carbon tax measure, and specifically the impact the measure would have at gas pump. For the sake of full disclosure, Rep. DeBolt is currently employed by Northwest Innovation Works, which has proposed to build a methanol refinery at the Port of Kalama and could be affected by a carbon tax.
Both candidates also had concerns about Initiative 1639, the proposed gun regulation measure. During the editorial board meeting with the candidates last week, DeBolt said the measure showed a lack of understanding of rural lifestyles. Thompson said he could support some elements in the measure, such as requiring firearms to be locked securely, and that some “common-sense gun rules” are needed, but that I-1639 was not the solution.
Though the two candidates may have agreed on some legislative issues, that doesn’t mean they agreed on how to resolve those issues. After all, DeBolt is running as a Republican; Thompson is a Democrat; and differences with naturally arise from the differences in political ideologies.
Given the similarity between the two candidates, why did we choose DeBolt? Since being elected to the state Legislature in 1996, Rep. DeBolt has assiduously worked for the betterment of his constituents. Although we understand there are times when bringing in “new blood” — fresh faces with new and different ideas and priorities — is a smart idea, we don’t believe that holds true for this race.
And DeBolt has a long history of supporting a legislative agenda that benefits southwest Washington. In just the last legislative session, he voted in favor of Senate Bill 6091, which allows “rural landowners to tap permit-exempt wells while local committees are developing water use plans, among other provisions” according the state Legislature website.
DeBolt also sponsored House Bill 2282 to establish a state net-neutrality policy. Both bills were passed into law.
We do have once caveat: We strongly disagreed with DeBolt’s vote to exempt legislators from public records law. Should Rep. DeBolt be elected to serve an 11th term as state representative, we encourage him to reconsider his vote on this issue, should another bill come forward.
After 22 years in public office, we aren’t going to hold that vote against him, and we encourage readers to vote for Rep. Richard DeBolt for state representative — again.