Council colleagues face off in House race

With State Representative Jeannie Darneille running for the Senate, two members of Tacoma City Council seek her position 2 in the House of Representatives for the 27th Legislative District. Jake Fey faces Lauren Walker in the race. Both are Democrats. Fey’s full-time job is director of Washington State University Extension Energy Program. Walker is executive director of Fair Housing Center of Washington.

Q) What makes you the best choice for voters in this campaign?

FEY: I believe that my positive record as a community volunteer and elected official make me the best candidate to serve the citizens of the 27th District in the Washington State Legislature. I have been a courageous leader on the Tacoma City Council, willing to take on difficult issues and do what is best for the people of this community. When presented with faulty and unrealistic revenue assumptions that jeopardized the financial health of our city, I voted against the past city manager’s budget. Furthermore, when it became clear that a leadership change at the city was badly needed I worked with my City Council colleagues to remove the past city manager. This balance of independence and collaboration is badly needed in the Legislature. That is why I have the sole endorsement of Councilmembers Victoria Woodards, Ryan Mello, David Boe, Marty Campbell and Anders Ibsen.

WALKER: I have proven political courage for standing up on important issues and being able to tell the story in a persuasive way. My community organizing and mediation background has served to effectively bring people together on complex issues. The 27th District needs someone to speak up convincingly, not just be the lonely vote, on women’s issues, our environment, a strong safety net and excellence in education. I will bring expertise on education and human services, two of the state’s key budget issues in Olympia. The 27th District needs an independent and strategic thinker who knows the issues in her bones. Voters want a candidate they can trust, who is a fighter and has the courage speak up within the caucus and deliver on the House floor. The 27th District has a great history of electing women to the House and Senate. My key goals are to use my strengths to address education, health care and to bring capital dollars back to our district for economic development. My many endorsements include State Representative Laurie Jinkins, County Executive Pat McCarthy, Washington Education Association, Master Builders Association, Black Collective, Service Employees International Union and Planned Parenthood.

Q) As you are interacting with voters, what is the top concern they have with state government they express to you?

FEY: As I have done in my previous campaigns, I have visited extensively with thousands of voters. The biggest issue on voters’ minds is the present economic climate – locally and nationally. Too many residents of the 27th District are unemployed or underemployed and nearly all voters are worried about their family’s financial future. Legislators must focus on creating and sustaining family-wage jobs. The second most common concern, especially among families, is education. Many families and/or students are feeling the pressure of rising tuition costs and are uncertain about whether they can continue their education pursuits at the state’s four-year and two-year educational institutions. Likewise, there is a concern among parents about the educational outcomes for their children and whether kids will be well prepared for life and future jobs. We must fully fund education and give it our highest priority. Finally, one of the common themes from constituents is a concern for how many people in our community are faring given the dramatic cuts in social service programs, fearing the State Legislature has cut services too far and put too many members of our community at risk. We must protect the vulnerable.

WALKER: I have knocked on more than 10,000 doors in the 27th District. Voters express a mixture of concerns about our state government, but are most concerned about the budget. They are aware that good government is here to help the most infirm, to educate our children at a high level and to fix our crumbling infrastructure. Voters are worried about the economy and jobs, health care coverage for themselves and others, and a strong educational system through college. Voters are paying attention, are happy about meeting the candidate who will represent them, and have strong opinions about how best to serve the 27th District. It has been powerful to engage in these conversations. I look forward to serving as their 27th District state representative.

Q) How has your full-time job and your time as an elected official prepared you to serve in Olympia?

FEY: My professional experience will serve residents of the 27th District well in the State Legislature. I will bring more than 30 years of effective public sector management experience at the state and local level. I understand where there are opportunities to save taxpayers money and make state government work more effectively. I have spent virtually every year representing my employers at the State Legislature. I have successfully worked to pass state legislation, including this last session, when the State Legislature funded a program my office administers in their Jobs Bill (Capital Budget). My City Council experiences will benefit the voters of the 27th District in two ways. I have been a leader on the City Council and I understand that to best serve the public, I need to work with my colleagues and earn their trust and respect. The endorsements I have from them demonstrate that. In addition, my service on the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Puget Sound Regional Council and the Association of Washington Cities has given me an opportunity to represent those agencies before the Legislature. I am a well-tested elected official and am ready to go to work should voters give me an opportunity to do so.

WALKER: My professional life of more than 30 years, to include a second term on the council, has been devoted to policy initiatives and service to our community at the local, state and national level. I spent the first half of my career on health care policy (long-term care, home care and related budget issues). The second part of my professional life has been devoted to civil rights and housing issues to include serving on a national board of directors and effectively advocating with members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Having lived in the Hilltop neighborhood for 22 years, I have been an effective community advocate bringing neighbors together on issues that range from safe neighborhoods to responsive schools to the restoration of People’s Pool. My nonprofit agency, where I have served as executive director since 1995, received the Chamber of Commerce’s Spotlight on Business Award for the best nonprofit agency in 2007. A few of my proudest moments in professional and public official leadership roles include working to pass Massachusetts’ first in the country universal health care bill, being the impetus for the city’s food waste recycling program, passing the city’s affordable housing policy with consensus from a bi-partisan group of community leaders, working with a diverse group of businesses and neighbors to ensure the city’s Mixed Use Centers best serve the district. My broad experience of working on policy issues that interface directly with our state budget is why I am needed in Olympia.

Q) You have served on committees on Tacoma City Council. If elected to the House, what committees there would you like to serve on?

FEY: The 27th District and Pierce County have very capable legislators. Representatives Jeannie Darneille and Laurie Jinkins understand health care and social services issues very well. What Senator Debbie Regala would tell you is that I bring great background on jobs, education, environmental and transportation issues, as well as a comprehensive understanding of budgets. I am well prepared to serve on committees that deal with these topics.

WALKER: I am the current chair of the Neighborhoods & Housing Committee and serve on the Environment & Public Works and Economic Development committees. I have had leadership positions on the Puget Sound Regional Council, Pierce County Regional Council, the Tacoma Arts Commission and Joint Municipal Action Committee. My greatest interests are Capital Budget Committee, or other budget related committees, Health and Human Services, Community Development and Housing, Education and Transportation. It is of key importance to maintain a balance with my House of Representatives seatmate’s committees.

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