Battle Ground electrical engineer and businessman Jim Gizzi announced on Wednesday that he will run as a Democrat against state Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver.
Gizzi, 53, said his top priorities in the Legislature would include improving the economy as a way to grow jobs, fully funding education, and taking a different approach to problem-solving in Olympia.
“We seem to be locked in this battle over ideology, and I think we need to stop that,” he said by phone on Wednesday. In a press release sent out with his announcement, he elaborated: “The 17th Legislative District needs more from our elected leaders than ‘No, No, No.’ We need legislators that understand the needs of the district and take the steps necessary to solve our problems.”
Gizzi said he considers himself a moderate Democrat and said he wants the state to keep taxes low and to avoid taking on new debt.
This is Gizzi’s first time running for public office. He sits on the Clark County Planning Commission advisory board, and works as a program manager with TE Connectivity, a telecommunications company.
On Wednesday, Gizzi expressed his support for the Clark County Skills Center, which he described as an underfunded program that turns away more than 50 percent of interested students.
“This facility provides a head start to our kids in the job market,” Gizzi said in his announcement. “With high school graduate unemployment exceeding 20 percent for those seeking jobs, we can no longer afford to neglect this program.”
He also said he would work to promote education partnerships between businesses and Washington State University Vancouver.
Gizzi lives with his wife and daughter in unincorporated Battle Ground, just within the 17th
Legislative District boundary. He said his 11-year-old daughter is his inspiration for running for office.
“The lack of conversation around solving problems worries me when we start thinking about our kids and our future, and our kids’ ability to afford an education and be able to get jobs here in Clark County,” he said by phone. He also said he wants to “get the mechanisms in place for a fair, sustainable budget that supports our schools and our teachers.”
Gizzi has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and has worked in telecommunications for more than two decades. He’s also worked as a restaurant manager and a commercial diver, and has previously owned a small diving business and a photography studio.