Beginners take on veteran legislators in District 43
Seattle Times staff reporter
One candidate, Republican Zac Green, 22, said he agreed to have his name on the ballot but isn't actively campaigning in the 43rd's neighborhoods, which include Wallingford, Fremont, Greenlake, the University District and Capitol Hill. He declined to name the organization that recruited him as part of a GOP goal to have Republicans run in every state race.
"I do consider myself a token candidate," said Green, who is running against incumbent Democrat Ed Murray for Position 1 in the House of Representatives. "I've not been seriously campaigning because spending money on a race that's doomed to defeat takes money away from more competitive races."
Mark Griswold, the Republican candidate for Position 2, is taking a different tack, door-belling and campaigning hard. "Winning for me is a longshot," he said, adding, "I would be surprised if I won, but I wouldn't be completely shocked."
Griswold, 24, is looking to unseat Democrat Frank Chopp, who has served as House speaker for three years and is seeking a fifth term. If he loses, he's not about to fade from the political scene.
"You haven't seen the last of me," Griswold said. "Talking to people, I've learned there are a lot ... who do think it's time for another voice. It does make me optimistic."
In his candidate's statement in the state voters pamphlet, Green wrote he would be an advocate, if elected, "who understands that my paramount duty is to serve my constituents, not indulge in personal causes."
Green said the comment shouldn't be misconstrued to mean "gay issues" just because it was directed at Murray, an openly gay legislator who has spent part of his nine-year tenure trying to get a gay-and-lesbian civil-rights bill passed.
Instead, the comment was about making decisions based on "what is fair, what is right and what the constituents are looking for," said Green, criticizing Murray for ignoring the University of Washington's 40,000-member student body.
"Granted, it's a transitory population, but they still live in the district, they're still constituents," Green said.
Though his competition is less than fierce, Murray is maintaining high visibility, meeting with constituents and attending community forums.
"I hear about transportation, education and health care; those are the three issues I hear about everywhere in my district," said Murray, who oversaw passage last year of a $5 billion transportation package, the first new package to be approved in 13 years.
But more needs to be done, Murray said: the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge are crumbling, the transit system needs improvement and the state needs to encourage people to drive cleaner cars, he said.
As for education, the 43rd District needs more high-quality neighborhood public schools, Murray said. The Legislature also needs to find ways to increase slots for university students and pay professors more to keep from "losing some of the best minds in the country," he said.
Like teachers, physicians are increasingly underpaid, Murray said. A doctor shortage, skyrocketing costs and growing numbers of uninsured adults are making for a complex crisis, he said.
Education, transportation and health care also topped Chopp's priority list. Improving the state's education system is important because access to higher education "is good not just for young people but also helps grow the economy," he said.
Transportation initiatives also create jobs, since improved infrastructure helps stimulate the business community, Chopp said.
Seattle public schools need more money, but to make the most of their education, children need to be healthy, Chopp said. "Every kid in our state should have health care; there shouldn't even be a debate about it."
Griswold, Chopp's first Republican challenger in a decade, favors charter schools and thinks teachers should have more say in what they teach. He would like to see a private company take over the day-to-day running of Seattle's transit system and wants fewer restrictions on small businesses.
"Getting Washington back to work, especially in the Seattle area," is a huge priority, Griswold said. "If you walk down Broadway or University Way, you'll see a lot of storefronts are empty."
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or email@example.com
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