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The Daily News' legislative picks

The Daily News' legislative picks

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Note: Daily News Endorsements are opinions that reflect the official position of the Editorial Board of the Daily News, which makes its decisions independent of our news team. The Daily News news team makes its decisions about news coverage and presentation of the news completely independent of any endorsements or political affiliations, based on professional standards of fairness, accuracy and objectivity.

The state Legislature’s 19th and 20th legislative districts neatly encompass the geographic and demographic reach of The Daily News. Together they also comprise the rich natural and human resources of Southwest Washington and the Lower Columbia region.

We believe that the strengths, the legacy and the great potential of this region are often taken for granted or ignored by our state’s population centers north and south of us. In assessing the legislative candidates, we looked for strong local voices who can represent, articulate and fight for our communities and our region, to assert our rightful role as a model for a bright future – economically, environmentally and socially.

20th District House Seat No. 1 Two new candidates are competing to replace retiring state Rep. Richard DeBolt: Republican Peter Abbarno and Democrat Timothy Zahn.

Zahn is a newcomer to politics, said he is “running to bridge the partisan divide and bring lasting progress,” but we believe his learning curve in Olympia would be too steep for the two-year term.

Abbarno is the clear favorite of Republican officials, having won the endorsement of DeBolt, a longtime Chehalis Republican, and in our view has the potential to be one of the brightest stars of the Legislature’s minority party. He has a strong business sense, but more importantly, his work as a Centralia council member demonstrates impressive instincts of building bridges, “communicating and collaborating,” as he puts it.

20th District House Seat No. 2 Long-time incumbent Ed Orcutt is facing newcomer Will Rollet in the race for the 20th Legislative District House seat that Orcutt has held for nearly two decades. Orcutt has a long history of acting for the communities of his district. Rollet’s website bills him as a voice for the working class.

Kalama Republican Orcutt understands the value of listening and responding. His opponent declined to answer the most basic questions about his candidacy.

Orcutt demonstrates that a long-term incumbency can translate into real benefits for citizens and communities. From a bill to let people access private, abandoned cemeteries to getting funding for a Woodland baseball field and road improvement projects, Orcutt told TDN that he’s always “trying to get some of the taxpayer dollars back into the community for our benefit.”

We can’t think of a better reason for returning him to Olympia.

19th District Senate Seat Dean Takko is seeking a second four-term representing the 19th District in the state Senate, after serving in the House. The Democrat from Longview has served in the Legislature for 15 years, working as a moderate. He has served his district admirably, but we are desperately in need of new energy and a stronger voice in Olympia.

We recommend Port of Longview Commissioner Jeff Wilson as the best and brightest candidate to press our region’s case in Olympia, especially with regard to development of our ocean ports.

Our region has not benefited from the majority rule in Olympia, so perhaps it’s time to be more in-your-face and be a squeaky wheel. Wilson is the man for that job, in our view.

“Voters are ready, willing and past due for a change,” Wilson told TDN this summer, and we agree with him, and believe he offers the kind of voice we need in Olympia.

19th District House Seat No. 1 When it comes to protecting local industries, attracting new growth and representing local interests in Olympia with a strong and clear voice, we heartily endorse 19th District incumbent House member Jim Walsh. His opponent, Democrat Marianna Everson can’t match Walsh’s grasp of the issues or his understanding of the district’s constituency.

Walsh is tenacious, and perhaps more importantly, has learned to navigate the mine fields of Olympia and manage the realities of minority politics — skills that serve his district well. The more time he spends in the trenches and less time tilting at windmills will stake out a valuable future for him and his constituents. Voters should return him to the House.

19th District House Seat No. 2 It is important to look at traits as well as accomplishments, to take into account the value that incumbency can deliver. Elected leaders must be more willing to listen than to talk, and when they represent a region at a river’s edge, to understand the currents that are mainstream, and powerful.

Brian Blake for nearly 18 years has shown he knows how to navigate those currents. His opponent, Joel McEntire, for the second time around, continues to be treacherously out of touch with the realities of government and public policy.

Blake has a solid track record of helping his constituents. The Democrat has been especially effective a building bipartisan relationships in Olympia. As chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, he is in a great position to represent the needs of his district. We strongly endorse his return to the House.

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