When you picture the Washington state Legislature, it usually looks like mostly white males. But that is in the process of changing.
When the Legislature convenes in January, it will reflect more of our changing society. A big turnout was driven by President Donald Trump’s behavior, COVID-19, economic development for all, and police accountability after several Black people died at the hands of white police officers — and brought out the countywide voters who tilt left.
Democrats will continue to control the governor’s office, the state Senate and the House of Representatives, and new legislators of color may bring a different view to the legislative process. Newcomers to watch include David Hackney in District 11, who defeated incumbent Zack Hudgins; and Jamila Taylor, who claimed a vacant seat in the 30th District, joining appointed seatmate Jesse Johnson. Watch both. They will join Debra Entenman from the 47th District, Mia Su-Ling Gregerson from the 33rd District and other incumbents with different cultural backgrounds to give the Legislature a more international appearance.
Hackney’s win over Hudgins at 61% to 36% had matched two Democrats against each other and is something for Democratic leaders to watch in the future. Hudgins was one of the few incumbents to lose. Also in the 11th District, Democratic incumbent Steve Bergquist defeated Republican Sean Atchison, 70% to 29%.
In the 30th District, Jamila Taylor defeated Federal Way City Councilmember Martin Moore, 58% to 42%. Moore is up for re-election to the city council next year and will need to spend less time trying to avoid alienating voters and more time showing command of the issues. The other seat in the 30th District was held by Jesse Johnson, who was appointed when State Rep. Kristine Reeves stepped down to run for Congress. Johnson defeated businessman Jack Walsh, 60% to 40%. Walsh, a Republican, had led two successful drives to keep pot shops out of Federal Way.
In the 31st District, which is Republican territory in the Auburn area, Drew Stokesbary defeated Democrat Katie Young in position 1 with 63%, and Eric Robertson will return to the state Legislature after an absence of a few years after defeating Thomas Clark, 63% to 37%. In addition to Gregerson’s re-election over Libertarian Marliza Melzer in the 33rd District, Democrat Tina Orwall defeated Republican Kerry French by 71% to 28%. In the 47th District, Debra Entenman defeated Republican Kyle Lyebyedyev, 58% to 41%, while Democratic floor leader Pat Sullivan defeated Republican Ted Cooke, 59% to 41%.
In the presidential race, the Biden-Harris ticket captured 75% of the King County vote and the Trump-Pence team got 22.2%. The big turnout and the Democratic fervor wasn’t surprising as King County has 1.4 million registered voters that helped pass several Charter Amendments.
The most debated Amendment was #5, which passed at 69% and returned the sheriff’s position to its pre-1996 status as an appointed position rather than an elected position. Amendment #1 regarding inquests has been one of the more controversial proposals between the county and some suburban cities, along with the perception that inquests favor the law enforcement officers over families who have lost a loved one. It passed with 80% favorability. Amendment #6 will become controversial as it gives the King County Council authority to restructure the King County Sheriff’s Office and will likely pit police supporters against backers of Black Lives Matters. It passed with 62% support, and is the one to watch, whichever side you are on.
Amendment #3, which substitutes “member of the public” or “resident” for “citizen” and reflects that many people who live here are not citizens, passed at 67%. Amendment #4, which provides subpoena power to the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, passed at 81%. Proposition #1 for Harborview Medical Center passed at 76%.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.