Newest candidate for 18th District seat no stranger to politics

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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A new candidate has stepped forward in hopes of becoming state representative for the 18th District, and he’s no stranger to running for office.

Dale Smith, 58, served for four years as a La Center city councilman and unsuccessfully ran for La Center mayor. He’s also a former campaign manager for Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke.

Smith, a self-described Reagan Republican, is running for the 18th District seat because he wants to make state government more efficient, he said Thursday, shortly after announcing his candidacy.

“I think I’d better fit the profile of a candidate in the 18th than the other person who is running,” Smith said in reference to Liz Pike.

He added that he and Pike have been cordial with each other and that he doesn’t wish to run a negative campaign.

Pike, also a Republican, is a former Camas city councilwoman who unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Camas Mayor Paul Dennis in 2007.

The two are competing for the position held by Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama. Orcutt will lose his eligibility to run for the seat this year because the district boundaries have changed following the 2010 Census. Orcutt has said he plans to seek election in his new legislative district, the 20th.

Smith, who is retired, said it took him a while to decide whether he would run. His wife, Nancy, was in jeopardy of losing her insurance company job because of outsourcing. Once the couple knew her job was secure, they decided the timing was good for Dale Smith to enter the race.

Dale Smith has previously worked in engineering positions that include a research and development job at General Motors. He also worked as a maintenance manager for Milgard Windows & Doors and has served nine years in the Air Force, from which he was honorably discharged.

Regarding the current budget disagreement in the state Legislature, Smith used a common Republican buzzword to criticise the Democrats’ budget plan: He called their idea to delay an education payment into the next biennium a “gimmick.”

“At some point, you’re going to have to pay,” Smith said.

He also said the Democrats’ plan isn’t sustainable, and if he were in charge, he would make “real reductions.”

Smith lives in La Center with his wife and three sons.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics