Republican Ralph Akin joined a growing list of challengers vying for the state representative seat currently held by Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver.
Akin, of Battle Ground, said his decision to run for the 18th District’s first House position wasn’t a reflection of Vick’s performance, but Akin said he would be better suited to working with the delegation.
“I wouldn’t run if I didn’t think I had more to offer in terms of bringing people together and getting to the right solutions,” he said.
Akin, 66, who has lived in Washington state for most his life, said it’s one of the best places in the country. But he was inspired to run because “in many ways we’re not reaching the potential we need to, and I think the Legislature is one place where that can be rectified.”
One way to improve the situation, Akin said, is to work across the aisle to ease partisan gridlock.
“I don’t think there’s been enough dialogue and people sitting down and reasoning together,” Akin said. “There’s too much rancor.”
His top priorities include bringing transportation dollars to the region and ensuring small businesses aren’t hurt by the federal health care changes.
A $12.3 billion transportation package failed in the Legislature this year, which could wind up benefiting Clark County residents. Only $46 million was carved out for projects in the county, meaning Clark County residents would be paying for projects mainly benefiting other parts of the state.
“Clark County has been shortchanged for many years,” Akin said.
Lawmakers are expected to bring the package back up for debate later this year or in 2015.
“We need to fight for the bucks and keep them here,” Akin said.
Akin, who is recently retired, spent most of his career working for a health care device company in the sales department. He’s worried small businesses will be negatively impacted by the new health care law in the coming years.
“Health care is going to hit many small businesses to a much bigger degree next year,” he said.
Lawmakers should be considering how to help small businesses by perhaps allowing insurance companies to have more flexibility, he said.
Akin said he also would focus on education issues and bring “common-sense solutions” to help improve the state’s school systems.
Akin is president-elect of the Lewis River Rotary in Battle Ground. He is active in his church and volunteered and served on the board of the North County Community Food Bank. He lives outside of Battle Ground with his wife of 45 years.
Akin joins other Republican candidate John Ley in seeking the 18th District seat held by Vick. Ley, of Camas, is a captain for Delta Air Lines.
Democrat Mike Briggs, a retired lumber business professional who lives in Washougal, also has declared he plans to run for the seat.
Vick was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2012. He works for his family’s landscaping business as a marketing manager. He plans to seek re-election.