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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Dec. 7, 2023

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Inside the candidates: 17th, 18th, 49th legislative districts

The Columbian
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Ben Shoval
Ben Shoval Photo Gallery

Candidate filing week wrapped up on Friday. We asked some of the legislative candidates to give their basic biography and to weigh in on two of the hotter topics of the day: the McCleary court case, where the state’s top court mandated the Legislature to fully fund basic education, and the controversial oil-by-rail terminal proposed for Vancouver.

Their answers and some biographical information is below.


Position 1,

House of Representatives

Monica Jurado Stonier

Age: 37.

Hometown: Vancouver.

Party affiliation: Democrat.

Occupation: Teacher/instructional literacy coach at Pacific Middle School, current Washington State Representative.

Education: Western Washington University, bachelor’s in psychology; Washington State University, master’s in education; Washington state teaching certificate.

Relevant experience: Current state representative.

Family: Married, two children.

o Top priorities: First priority is funding education. Another priority is bolstering the economy in Clark County, helping small businesses grow and streamlining the process and regulations for them.

o On McCleary: It’s very clear to me that the initiatives that we recently passed, the new teacher evaluation system, these are things that people who work in schools are going to improve student learning. We need time and resources to implement them well. The state has new mandates, now we have to make sure we have the professional funding and time to implement them.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: Although her focus has been on jobs, the oil terminal brings a number of jobs in one industry. But the waterfront property, which has greater support, brings a greater number of jobs and a variety of industries. Opposes the terminal.

Lynda Wilson

Age: 56

Hometown: Vancouver.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Occupation: Co-owner DeWils Industries.

Relevant experience: Clark County Republican Party, chair, 2012-2014; Clark County GOP, precinct committee officer, 2010-present.

Family: Married, three children.

o Top priorities: We need to promote economic growth and increase job opportunities. To do this, we must create a pro-business environment by creating a stable regulatory and business climate. Predictability and certainty creates an atmosphere where Washington families are working, in turn more revenue is generated to pay for schools, public safety and programs to help children, the elderly and our most vulnerable citizens.

o On McCleary: The McCleary decision goes beyond just funding, it is about improving student outcomes and supporting teachers. Bottom line is, we need more of our education resources to be directed to the classroom, not the education bureaucracy, putting the needs of our children first.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: Of course, all aspects relating to this terminal must conclude its safety for everyone and properly equipped to respond to emergencies. The addition of about 120 good family wage jobs this terminal would bring would be great for Clark County. However, I am neither a no or a yes vote until all of the data has been considered; that’s how I operate.

Position 2,

House of Representatives

Paul Harris

Age: 61.

Hometown: Vancouver.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Occupation: Washington state sales manager for medical and dental offices; current Washington State Representative.

Education: Brigham Young University, bachelor’s in business management, accounting.

Relevant experience: Evergreen School Board Director, 1992 to 2003; Washington State Legislature, elected in 2010 to present.

o Top priorities: The budget will be critical, keeping the budget in balance. Proper funding of education.

o On McCleary: I believe we need to fund McCleary. I would like to take the majority of marijuana money that is coming in and put it toward it McCleary.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: To me, the real answer to this is the trains are going to continue to run. If they kill the project, if the Port doesn’t build the terminal, I want to make sure people know the trains will continue to run by us and the oil will continue to flow past Vancouver and go up north. And in my mind, it’s whether you want the terminal here, not the traffic, and I would take the terminal because we will have the traffic no matter what.

Chris Rockhold

Age: 43.

Hometown: Vancouver.

Party affiliation: Libertarian.

Occupation: Pilot with Empire Airlines.

Education: South Puget Sound Community College; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Family: Married, one son.

o Top priorities: Allow education decisions to be made more on the local level, letting the state opt out of Common Core requirements, supporting small businesses and advocating on behalf of GMO labeling.

o On McCleary: The Legislature should be making decisions, not the Supreme Court.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: I like the idea of bringing businesses to Vancouver, but we have to look carefully at the environmental side of it and weigh the risk versus the benefits. My mind is not made up yet.

Richard McCluskey

Hometown: Vancouver.

Party: Prefers Democrat.

Could not be reached for comment.


Position 1,

House of Representatives

Mike Briggs

Age: 62.

Hometown: Washougal.

Party affiliation: Democrat.

Occupation: Retired from the wood products industry.

Education: Attending Portland State University, concentrating on political science and creative non-fiction.

Military experience: U.S. Navy, 1971-1975 active duty, two years inactive.

o Top priorities: Fair and balanced representation for my district, transportation and education.

o On McCleary: The McCleary decision is a ruling by the Washington state Supreme Court. This is the highest court in our state. … The Legislature must comply with this ruling.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: With the information I have now, I would not (support) the oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

John Ley

Age: 58.

Hometown: Camas.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Occupation: Pilot for Delta Airlines.

Education: Portland State University, bachelor’s degree.

Military experience: U.S. Air Force, captain, 1977-1989; distinguished graduate, squadron officer school; instructor pilot, KC-135, public affairs officer for the Air Force.

o Top priorities: No. 1 priority is finding out what follows in the wake of Columbia River Crossing, now that it’s dead. Encouraged by the efforts of Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, on the new Bi-state Bridge Coalition.

o On McCleary: Clearly education is the highest priority. Not in favor of throwing money at a general target. The ultimate solution is to have more revenue to solve the problem, which would come from a growing economy and the creation of more jobs.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: Generally in favor of the idea. It will bring good-paying jobs to the area, and the Port has been responsible throughout the process.

Brandon Vick

Age: 29.

Hometown: Vancouver.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Occupation: Sales and marketing manager for Vick Landscaping, Washington State representative.

Education: associate degree in communications from Clark College, 2004; attended WSU Vancouver.

Relevant experience: Washington state representative.

Family: Married, one daughter.

o Top priorities: First, ensuring that taxpayer’s resources are used responsibly and spent wisely. Secondly, helping the economy and business climate by creating a friendly, stable and predictable environment in which to grow. Third, a focus on education.

o On McCleary: I have continuously advocated for budget writers to secure education funding before addressing the other sections of the budget. By securing the K-12 portion of the budget at the beginning, we would stop the practice of playing politics with our children’s education.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: It is my sincere belief that if the oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver is able to pass through the rigorous process that the state has set forth, that the terminal should be allowed to be constructed and operated as designed. The people of SW Washington have spent hundreds of millions of their tax dollars to build out the port, and we need to maximize the return on those dollars.

Position 2,

House of Representatives

Maureen Winningham

Age: 47.

Hometown: Battle Ground.

Party affiliation: Democrat.?

Occupation: Global Training & Development Executive for Intel Security.

Education: Franklin University, bachelor’s in marketing.

Family: One daughter.

o Top priorities: Education, jobs in Clark County, transportation and infrastructure.

o On McCleary: The Supreme Court has made it clear that the state needs to step up and do what parents, teachers and students already know: fund our schools to provide every child the opportunity they deserve. I take this mandate seriously, and in the legislature would work with bold leaders in both parties to forge a real, lasting solution that relies on closing tax loopholes that fail to create jobs, redirecting revenues from less-essential programs, and other savings.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: As a global executive in the security industry, I am deeply concerned about the national security risk of having an oil terminal within a close radius a densely populated downtown area, two bridges and a major airport. This oil terminal would be perfectly situated to do an enormous amount of damage if Vancouver was targeted or if there was an accident.

(This answer has been updated.)

Liz Pike

Age: 54.

Hometown: Camas.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Occupation: Current Washington State Representative; small acreage organic farmer, former advertising executive for 35 years.

Education: Jennifer Dunn Leadership Institute, graduate.

Relevant experience: Washington state representative.

Family: Two children.

o Top priorities: Reduce job-killing regulations, commit to a world-class education system, prioritize state spending, protect our most vulnerable citizens, adopt performance plans in every state agency.

o On McCleary: The Legislature must fund education first. It’s our paramount duty, so let’s give education our first dollar, not the last. More local control is needed; there are too many strings attached to state education funding. I trust our local school boards to make the decisions which reflect the priorities of the communities they serve. More local control is the answer.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: Washington has among the most stringent environmental laws in the nation. A rigorous approval process is currently underway. It is premature for the Legislature to weigh in on this issue. It’s also worth noting the oil terminal decision will ultimately be decided by Washington’s Governor. However, safety concerns in our cities along rail lines must be addressed.


Position 1,

House of Representatives

Sharon Wylie

Age: 64

Hometown: Vancouver

Party affiliation: Democrat

Occupation: Current Washington state lawmaker, formerly a management consultant on government projects, former lobbyist.

Education: University of California, Riverside, bachelor’s in political science.

Relevant experience: Washington state representative, 2011 to present; Oregon state legislator, 1993 and 1995.

o Top priorities: Funding education, preserving and improving social safety net for senior citizens, strengthening consumer protections for aging population.

o On McCleary: I would like to see the acceleration of the review of tax preferences. We started that process and we kept watering it down and allowing certain industries to bypass the reviews, there is money to be had there. Also, I would put pressure on the federal government to complete their work on taxing internet sales because that’s a big hemorrhage in all state and local governments.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: I think it’s inappropriate to transport vast amounts of volatile crude oil by train.

Anson Service

Age: 40

Hometown: Vancouver

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Doctor of clinical psychology and clinic director.

Education: WSU Vancouver, bachelor’s in psychology; American School of Professional Psychology, master’s; American School of professional psychology, Seattle, PhD

Relevant experience: Vice President of the Greater Goldendale Area Chamber of Commerce, 2000; WSUV, senator 2004

Family: Married, three sons.

o Top priorities: I am concentrating on stopping the pattern of our current representatives who have continually supported wasteful spending programs, such as the Columbia River Crossing TriMet light rail expansion into Vancouver. I am also for stopping their pattern of pushing for increased taxes and creating new and added fees that impact our lower income families the most.

o On McCleary: The long-term answer does not including raising current taxes or adding unnecessary fees and headaches that depress our economy. Cutting foolish spending, increasing industry in and to Washington, and eliminating expensive, unneeded governmental programs is the long term answer.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: If it were determined that the rail cars would be built in a manner that would ensure maximum safety so as to not harm our beautiful area of the Northwest, I would be in favor of adding that revenue stream to our economy and the jobs it could create. It is also possible to build a beautiful waterfront area without having to choose one over the other.

Scott Dalesandro

Age: 62

Hometown: Vancouver

Party affiliation: Independent

Occupation: Logistics manager with Columbia River logistics.

Education: Robert Morris University, bachelor’s degree, studied accounting.

Relevant experience: Volunteer on the Clark County Railroad Advisory Board.

Family: Married, one son, two grandchildren.

o Top priorities: I see a meanness around here from politicians, there isn’t a spirit of cooperation. The right and left are extreme, and nobody seems to be representing the people in the middle. I want to help people get the tools and what they need to get ahead in life. I want to help with job creation.

o On McCleary: We have way too many dropouts. School for whatever reason is not challenging our young people, it’s so easy for them to drop out and not attend school. I don’t necessarily believe it’s funding that is driving the dropout rate. There are other things in school that are causing that, such as bullying.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: There are a lot of questions that aren’t answered. … I’m not convinced this is the way we should be doing things.

Position 2,

House of Representatives

Jim Moeller

Age: 58

Hometown: Vancouver

Party affiliation: Democrat

Occupation: Chemical dependency counselor, Kaiser Permanente; Washington state representative.

Education: WSU, bachelor’s in psychology, 1978; Hatfield School of Government, 2000.

Relevant experience: Vancouver City Council, 1995-2003; Washington state representative, 2003 to present.

o Top priorities: Education, transportation and health care.

o On McCleary: We have to find new revenue. … We’re going to take another look at closing some obsolete tax incentives, one of them being out-of-state residents sales tax break.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: Not in favor of the terminal.

Carolyn Crain

Age: 55

Hometown: Vancouver

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Retired business owner, owned a bakery and electronics store.

Education: Western Business College

Relevant experience: Attends many meetings and has always been civically engaged.

Family: Married, one son.

o Top priorities: Economic policy and jobs, I have a personal passion for seniors and senior issues.

o On McCleary: We need to adjust our constitution so that we make sure we always fund education first.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: I’m in favor of putting the proper safety measures in place to make sure that an oil transfer station is safely and environmentally secure and brings energy to the market.

Lisa Ross

Age: 49

Hometown: Vancouver

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Certified public accountant

Education: University of Alabama, bachelor’s in philosophy; Western Governors University, bachelor’s in accounting; Western Governors University-Washington, master’s of business administration.

Relevant experience: Boots to Boots, Girl Scouts of America.

Family: Married, two children.

o Top priorities: My top issue is making sure that the taxpayer money is not wasted on programs that can’t work, that aren’t any business of the legislature in the first place, and those that erode our freedoms. As a CPA, I am accustomed to following the money. I want to keep the CRC dead, refurbish the I-5 bridge, and build new bridges. The first bridge should be the west side bridge to aid in speeding up interstate commerce by taking most of the big trucks over to the industrial area. Another priority is not raising taxes on those who can’t afford to pay them.

o On McCleary: Education should be the first item budgeted by the legislature — then everything else. The difficulty in the McCleary decision is in defining what makes up basic education. As in most areas of life, it all depends on the definitions.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: I support the oil terminal that the Port of Vancouver USA spent large sums of money preparing for and soliciting. I have been to and testified at board meetings, and I read the over 800 page proposal for the lease.


Position 1

House of Representatives

Norm Johnson

Age: 75

Hometown: Yakima

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Retired teacher, counselor and principal with Toppenish School District.

Education: Central Washington University, bachelor’s in education; Fort Wright College, master’s in education.

Relevant experience: Mabton Town Council member; Toppenish City Council for 20 years, mayor for four; Yakima City Council, three years; Washington state representative.

Family: Married, five sons, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren.

o Top priorities: Public safety, education of our youth and taking care of the most vulnerable.

o On McCleary: We’re working toward fuller funding education. I think the Supreme Court needs to stick to their business, and we’ll stick to ours.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: Railroads are buying double-walled oil carriers. Gas prices are going sky high, and it’s not fair to the people to pay these huge amounts for gasoline. I think it would create jobs, and if done right it could be safe.

Position 2

House of Representatives

Name: Ben Shoval

Age: 37

Hometown: Yakima

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Real estate developer

Education: University of Pennsylvania, bachelor’s in economics

Relevant experience: Chairman of the Yakima City Planning Commission, 2010-2013; currently a member of Yakima Planning Commission; vice chairman of the initiative to make it more difficult to raise taxes in Yakima.

o Top priorities: Fighting for lower taxes, shrinking the size of government, provide for our most vulnerable citizens.

o On McCleary: I believe the judges need to respect the power of the Legislature. The Supreme Court is not doing so in this case.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: I support the proposed terminal and the jobs and economic growth that come with it. Obviously, all the appropriate safety requirements have to be met first.

Name: Gina McCabe

Age: 51

Hometown: Goldendale

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Business entrepreneur, runs and owns several family businesses.

Education: Clark College, associate’s degree; University of Washington, bachelor’s degree; certified hotel administrator

Relevant experience: Goldendale Chamber of Commerce for more than a decade, on chamber’s board for the past six years; public school dance and cheerleading coach; served on various economic and tourism advisory councils; helped on legislative campaigns.

Family: Married, four children, three grandchildren.

o Top priorities: First priority is helping small businesses maintain and survive. Second priority is education, focusing on teaching the way children need to learn. Third is “being family strong,” strengthening the family unit, which would lead to better education, less crime.

o On McCleary: The funds we put in (to K-12 education) we need to be accountable for to make sure we’re successful.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: It would create jobs and revenue, and it’s a source of economic development. We need to make sure it’s environmentally safe and all the emergency procedures are there in case something went wrong.

Adam Yoest

Age: 30

Hometown: Yakima

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Government liaison on the Yakima Training Center, Sgt. First Class in the Washington Army National Guard.

Education: Central Washington University, bachelor’s in political science,; University of Southern California, master’s in public administration.

Relevant experience: Military experience: Serving in the Washington Army National Guard, assigned to a brigade headquarters where duties are operational planning and order production for combat brigade

Family: Married

o Top priorities: Stopping Common Core until it has been vetted and removal of the federal hold on forested lands and return it back to state or county ownership.

o On McCleary: I believe they are doing what they can given the gridlock we’ve experienced, but I think we could do better. There is a systemic issue of underfunding.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: At the end of the day, there are only two successful ways to transport fossil fuels, by pipeline or rail, and people don’t want a pipeline, so the only option is rail.

Paul George

Age: 84

Hometown: Yakima

Party affiliation: Democrat

Occupation: Retired, former reporter at Yakima Herald Republic, general manager of the Yakima Meadows horse track.

Education: St. Martin’s University, bachelor’s degree.

Relevant experience: Served on the Yakima City Council, 2001; Mayor of Yakima, 2005-05.

Military experience: U.S. Army, 1952-1954.

Family: Widower, two children, three grandsons.

o Top priorities: Passing the Washington Voting Right Act; craft a transportation budget plan, benefitting municipal public transit.

o On McCleary: The Legislature is under court order to fully fund education. They have to do more, hopefully they will. The solution is for the Legislature to comply with the McCleary court decision. I know it’s not going to be easy, but it’s got to be done.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: The trains are going to be rumbling through the Columbia Gorge to this terminal, I have a problem with it only because I’m not a fan of fracking and this fuel is coming out of North Dakota. … It’s a different kind of crude oil, I’m not a fan. … Overall, I’m conflicted, but I’m not a fan of fracking, it’s polluting water.


Position 1,

House of Representatives

Richard DeBolt

Could not be reached for comment

Michael Savoca

Age: 62

Hometown: Rainier

Party affiliation: Unaffiliated

Occupation: Retired juvenile correctional counselor at Maple Lane School.

Education: State University of New York, bachelor’s in criminal justice.

Relevant experience: Served on the Rainier School District board for 11 years.

Family: Married, three children.

o Top priorities: Help move Washington into a 21st century sustainable energy program, see the state of Washington and the United State of America move toward campaign finance reform and overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case. We need to encourage sustainability in our agricultural practices and work with local farmers to improve productivity in a way that is sustainable

o On McCleary: The court has made it clear Washington state has not fulfilled its obligation to make Washington the No. 1 priority under our state. … We need to fully comply with the court’s decision.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: Currently the rail cars available to us and rail lines to us, make it very dicey to transport Bakken-type oil across the U.S., it’s very volatile and it’s very risky. I’m in favor of whenever possible using renewable energy sources.

Position 2,

House of Representatives

Ed Orcutt

Age: 51

Hometown: Kalama

Party affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Consulting forester, works with small timber owners to help manage their forest land; Washington state representative.

Education: University of Maine, associate degree in forest management; University of Idaho, bachelor’s in forest management

Relevant experience: Spent 13 years as Washington state representative.

Family: Married.

o Top priorities: No. 1 priority is job creation and creating an environment where the private sector can create jobs.

o On McCleary: We need to spend our money on education, and any new money that the economy naturally generates should go to education first, and we should flat-out fund education first. If they wait and try to fund education while funding everything else and come back and say we need a tax increase to fund education, that’s not funding education first.

o On the proposed oil-by-rail terminal: I think there are ways to make sure we protect public safety and the environment. There is new technology coming out, new type of rail cars to help prevent the accidents we’ve seen. As long as we can do it safely and protect the environment, I think it’s something that can move forward.

John Morgan

Could not be reached for comment

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