In a contest between two strong candidates, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends incumbent Republican Brandon Vick for re-election as state representative from the 18th Legislative District, Position 1.
As always, this is simply a recommendation designed to generate discussion. Vick, who has served three two-year terms in Olympia, is facing a robust challenge from Democrat Chris Thobaben, a political newcomer.
Vick narrowly came out ahead in the two-person primary in August, garnering 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Thobaben. That has created a closely watched race that has raised the level of discourse, forcing Vick to defend his record and encouraging Thobaben to make a case for why the incumbent should be replaced. The winners in all of this are the voters, who benefit from a healthy exchange of ideas.
In the end, we believe Thobaben doesn’t quite make the case for why he would be an improvement over the incumbent, but we encourage voters to watch the editorial board’s interview with both candidates and to judge for themselves. During that interview, Vick effectively and clearly explained his positions on the issues, demonstrating one of his strongest attributes as a legislator.
Vick is a longtime resident of the 18th District and works for his family’s landscaping business. He says, “I think it would be foolish to say humans don’t contribute to climate change” but adds that he opposes Initiative 1631, a fee upon carbon emitters that is on the November ballot. He opposes Initiative 1639, a gun-control measure, and says: “We have a people problem in some areas … the gun is the tool and the attitude is the problem, and that’s what we’re going to have to address.” As part of that issue, he opposes raising the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21.
In the Legislature, Vick has focused on bills designed to improve the business climate in Washington and is a vocal critic of the business and occupation tax.
Thobaben, who describes himself as a centrist Democrat, is a supply chain consultant and reserve officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has served as an appointed Democratic precinct committee officer and helped write the party’s platform for the county and the state, triggering his interest in running for office. He supports I-1631, saying: “We are effectively handing over our future economy and the tools of the trade to other folks because we’re not willing to lean forward to what needs to happen. And this is a step to levy fees on those industries that contribute most heavily to our current situation.” He said the gun-control ballot measure “misses the mark” in how it defines an assault rifle, but he favors requirements for gun storage.
Thobaben is a big thinker who analyzes complex ideas and comes up with complex solutions. If elected, he has the ability to be an effective representative for the 18th District but would face a steep learning curve in the machinations of Olympia; if not elected, we hope he remains involved in local politics and helps guide this region toward the future. He has a vision that is uncommon among first-time candidates.
For now, however, we believe Vick would better represent his constituents. He approaches issues with clarity and has been a conscientious representative. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that Brandon Vick be re-elected as state representative from the 18th District, Position 1.