In Our View: Vick, Briggs in the 18th

Incumbent Republican, Democratic rival should advance to general election

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It would be difficult to argue that residents of Washington’s 18th Legislative District didn’t get their money’s worth during Brandon Vick’s first term in Olympia. Vick sits on six legislative committees, including some key groups that deal with the state’s financing, and he rightly boasts that he did not miss any votes during the 2013 and 2014 sessions.

Vick, a Republican, still approaches the job with the enthusiasm of a newcomer who is confident he can make a difference in Washington, and he has earned consideration in this year’s primary election to move forward to the November general election. In addition to Vick, The Columbian Editorial Board recommends that Democrat Mike Briggs also advances to the general election out of Washington’s top-two primary. As always, these are merely recommendations. Republican John Ley also is running for Position 1 out of the 18th District, and we trust that voters are perfectly capable of examining the issues and deciding who would best represent them.

Asked about the problems facing the state, particularly K-12 education funding as mandated by the state Supreme Court, Vick said, “I don’t think you should raise taxes. More important, I don’t think you can; we keep going back to that well, and the well has run dry.” In his campaign materials, Vick wrote, “We must make sure that more of your money makes it into the classroom, and that less is spent on bureaucracy” — a sentiment that will resonate with voters but should be accompanied by more specifics.

Vick also was a critic of the proposed Columbia River Crossing but misses the irony in saying, “I want to put Clark County back on the map. I think a lot of times, people from Puget Sound or Spokane think, ‘They’re Portland Junior.’ ” The CRC was an opportunity to bring needed money, jobs and infrastructure to Clark County, but Vick and fellow Republicans in the Legislature helped kill the project.

Still, Vick is a thoughtful, hard-working lawmaker who continues to grow into the job.

Briggs, meanwhile, argues for more balanced representation in the 18th District. “I believe that we are currently lacking fair and informed representation for all of our citizens,” he said. Briggs argues in favor of user fees, believing they are the most equitable form of taxation, and he says a Legislature-approved $8.7 billion tax break for Boeing should have been accompanied by more restrictions on the company: “In my world, there would be golden handcuffs.” Regarding how the community moves beyond the CRC, he believes the Interstate 5 Bridge must be dealt with before a third bridge across the Columbia River is considered.

Briggs said he has cultivated a broad base of support, “and that says a lot,” but he acknowledges that his personal style and his passionate advocacy for issues he cares about can be a drawback in dealing with those who don’t know him well.

Ley is a longtime airline pilot who talks about forming a cohesive team with other legislators from the 18th District — Rep. Liz Pike (who is up for re-election in November) and Sen. Ann Rivers. “I think the team can be made a little better,” he said. He opposes background checks for gun sales and was a vocal opponent of the CRC, saying the public was cut out of the decision-making process.

Overall, Vick and Briggs appear to have more nuanced approaches to the issues facing the state. The Columbian recommends that they advance in the race for Representative from the 18th District.

Coming Wednesday: Recap of The Columbian’s recommendations.