(Steven M. Herppich/Steven M. Herppich)
Commercial airline pilot John Ley has announced he'll run for state representative in the 18th Legislative District, becoming the second challenger to incumbent Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver.
Ley, a Republican, will seek the 18th District's House Position 1.
"I think the citizens of our community deserve the best possible team representing them in Olympia," said Ley, 58. "I just felt that we could do better."
Ley said running against a fellow Republican isn't meant as a slight against Vick. Rather, he's hoping to foster a better sense of collaboration among all three legislators from the 18th District -- something Ley said already exists between Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas. The two have held joint town hall meetings this year, for example, while Vick has hosted his own gatherings separately.
Vick said he has held joint town halls with Rivers and Pike in the past, and makes efforts to communicate with citizens "in every possible way."
"I believe that it is important for the 18th Legislative District to work as a team," Vick said in an email. "The three of us work in concert to resolve constituent concerns and promote solutions that are good for (Southwest) Washington."
Among Ley's top priorities in Olympia would be transportation and economic issues, he said. Ley said he's been "saddened" by the performance of the Washington State Department of Transportation, and would like to see better accountability and reforms to the agency -- something many Republicans in the legislature have also called for. WSDOT has encountered a series of costly setbacks on two Seattle-area megaprojects.
On the economy, Ley said changes to the state's workers' compensation claim system and business taxes may help boost job creation. Ley also supports a proposal by Pike that would allow businesses to pay a "training wage" below minimum wage to new employees.
Ley has been an outspoken opponent of the Columbia River Crossing. Though Washington pulled out of the proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement last year, Oregon has continued to pursue the $2.9 billion project this year before finally killing the project Friday. Ley said he believes it's time to put a halt to the CRC,
and find an alternative that works for all parties.
"Let's get the communities on both sides of the river engaged," he said.
Ley's candidacy means at least three people will likely seek the 18th District seat held by Vick. Democrat Mike Briggs declared his intention to run earlier this year. Vick, now serving his first term in the legislature, has said he'll run for re-election.
Ley, who lives in Camas, is a captain for Delta Air Lines. He previously served in the U.S. Air Force, and helped form a small business.
Ley is making his first run for public office.
"It's an honor, and it's an opportunity to give back to my community," he said.