Election 2012: Four vie for House seats in 25th Legislative District

Democrat Dawn Morrell and Republican Shelly Schlumpf are running for Dammeier’s House seat of Republican Bruce Dammeier, who is running for the Senate. Morrell has worked as a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital since 1984. She previously represented the 25th District in the House from 2003-10. Schlumpf is president and CEO of Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce. She is also chair of Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitor Bureau. Republican Hans Zeiger holds position 2 in the House. He was elected in 2010. Challenging him is Democrat Bill Hilton, a captain in Washington State Patrol.

Q) Why are you the best choice for voters in this race?

HILTON: As a member of the Washington State Patrol for more than 30 years, I understand the needs of our community. My understanding, coupled with my values, makes me the best choice to represent the 25th District. I will work tirelessly to fully fund K-12 education, balance our budget, create comprehensive transportation solutions and make sure public safety officials have the tools they need to keep our communities safe.

MORRELL: I believe The News Tribune endorsement said it best: “we prefer Morrell, a critical care nurse. Her eight years in the House were impressive, she broke into leadership and demonstrated valuable expertise on health care issues. She ought to go back there.” My voters deserve to be represented by someone who is independent and works for them, Big oil, drug and insurance companies and big banks and even the tobacco companies are funding my opponent. I know that working nurses make a difference in Olympia – I love a David and Goliath fight and am ready and able to stand up for working families and small businesses. My record on seniors and veterans speaks for itself and I will do what is needed to fund quality education for our children.

SCHLUMPF: I am fourth generation Pierce County resident and have always been involved in community. From schools to local events, council meetings to commissions and boards, I was taught to get involved, give back and encourage others to join the fun. I am passionate about local downtowns and quality of life for residents. That includes everything from employment opportunities to education for our children to fiscal responsibility. My husband and I owned a small business for more than 20 years so I understand the responsibility and challenges of creating jobs and providing local employment opportunities. As a chamber president and advocate for small business, I hear firsthand what issues are impacting our local employers and jobs. I continuously hear from employers, educators, community leaders and residents what our current issues are and I want to carry that message to Olympia. I have raised my children and my husband passed away four years ago from cancer, so I have the time to commit to representing the 25th District. My experience with small business, ongoing involvement with our communities and schools and a fresh perspective in Olympia makes me the best choice for this race. We cannot continue to vote to raise taxes. Raising property, business and sales tax impacts our families, our seniors on fixed incomes and our employers. We need to grow our way out of the existing economic situation. I will bring common sense with me to Olympia and will work with others to build relationships necessary to effect change at the state level. It works at a local level and I believe it can work in Olympia as well. 

ZEIGER: I have spent the past two years building relationships in our community and in the Legislature. In my first term, I worked to reform government and make it more accountable while standing up for education, public safety and care for the most vulnerable. I have passed bills to give more flexibility to local governments, make higher education more efficient and honor our veterans.

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

HILTON: I have knocked more than 18,000 doors this campaign, and there are a lot of issues that are currently concerning voters. I have found that one of the primary concerns for families is education. People are watching our public schools struggle. We need to provide more funding to our public schools, and help teachers give their students the resources they need to succeed. Another main issue at the doors is our economy. We need to help folks get back to work by creating a business-friendly environment, which attracts businesses to our area.

MORRELL: Losing their homes to medical bankruptcy and jobs. They are tired of the fighting and want their legislators to work for them. Women especially are tired of the government interfering in their personal lives. Women are smart and strong and are perfectly capable of making their own decisions about the number of children they want and their health care.  Seniors worry about earned benefits – Medicare, Tricare and Social Security – being jeopardized.  

SCHLUMPF: Lack of trust. They are willing to pay a portion of their hard-earned wages for services like education, safety, transportation, utilities, etc., but do not believe the government is accountable for spending our tax dollars. They believe that government spends beyond their means while expecting taxpayers to tighten their belts and pay more.

ZEIGER: Voters are concerned that state government is in the way of the jobs we need. Our state taxes and regulates small businesses too much, and we have a lot to do to make a friendlier climate for employers to create jobs.

Q) What will the Legislature need to do in the near future in regards to the state budget?

HILTON: In the past two years, the Legislature has convened five special sessions in order to resolve the budget. We need to focus on bi-partisan solutions that will save time and resources. I think we need to have a balanced approach to budgeting in our state, which means working across the aisle to focus on the basics: cutting discretionary spending, creating jobs and maintaining public safety. I bring a willingness and strong ability to work with others to solve the challenges we face.

MORRELL: We need to curb the cost of health care, save the billion dollars spent on uncompensated care and use the money for schools. Taking advantage of the Affordable Care Act will insure more than 800,000 people in our state – secure families are then able to shop in our businesses, improving the economy. Small business and entrepreneurs needs to stop worrying about the escalating cost of health insurance and get back to what business does best – jobs and improving the economy. We should support our elderly, our children, individuals with disabilities and make sure everyone else has a job so they can take care of themselves.

SCHLUMPF: There are some hard decisions ahead for the next legislative body. Prior legislation has “kicked the can down the road” with gimmicks and harmful cuts to backfill deficits. We need to work for an honest state budget that protects education and that lives within our means. It also means looking at a possible new revenue package for our transportation corridors, i.e., State Route 167, which translates into economic development and local jobs.

ZEIGER: The Legislature needs to prioritize education, public safety and care for the most vulnerable. 

Q) What can be done to increase collaboration between Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature?

HILTON: In order to increase collaboration between Republicans and Democrats, we need to elect more leaders that are willing to compromise and listen. By having more open leadership, we can reach across party lines and create legislation that benefits our community as a whole. I intend to work to find common ground in Olympia.

MORRELL: When I sponsor a bill I always look for Republicans to co sponsor – if it is good policy it can be done. I believe that cancer does not care if you are a Republican or Democrat. Both parties get stuck in traffic and everyone needs a job and safe communities. We all want the peace of mind to know that if our children get very sick or we have a catastrophic illness, our lives, futures and homes will not be jeopardized. Tell your legislators to start working for you and not their party or special interests.

SCHLUMPF: More communication and work on issues that effect and benefit both parties.

ZEIGER: We are all in this together for a better Washington. I believe the best policy is made when we think about the public instead of partisanship. We can advance the public good when Republicans and Democrats look for every opportunity to cross party lines, build relationships and collaborate on legislation.

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