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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Three vie to fill Ann Rivers’ 18th Legislative District Senate seat

Incumbent not seeking reelection; Cheney, Benton, Cortes lay out plans

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 4, 2024, 6:07am
5 Photos
A crowd listens to candidates for the 18th Legislative District Senate seat Monday during a Clark County League of Women Voters forum at Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue Station 26.
A crowd listens to candidates for the 18th Legislative District Senate seat Monday during a Clark County League of Women Voters forum at Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue Station 26. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

In the 18th Legislative District, Sen. Ann Rivers is not seeking another term, and three hopefuls are campaigning to succeed her.

One is Rivers’ seatmate Rep. Greg Cheney, R-Battle Ground, a practicing attorney who was elected to the 18th District in 2022.

Cheney will face Democrat Adrian Cortes, a Battle Ground city councilor and former mayor, and Republican Brad Benton, the son of Don Benton, a former state senator and Trump administration official, in the Aug. 6 primary election.

The top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.

The district used to encompass Battle Ground, Ridgefield, Yacolt, Camas and Washougal. Now, after redistricting, it includes Battle Ground and unincorporated areas of Felida, Salmon Creek, Brush Prairie and Vancouver.

Greg Cheney

Prior to joining the Legislature, Cheney, 42, was a board member of National Alliance on Mental Illness Southwest Washington and a longtime member of the Battle Ground Planning Commission.

“These experiences have given me a good sense of what needs to be done in Olympia,” he said at a Clark County League of Women Voters candidate forum Monday.

As a lawmaker, he has focused on addressing mental health and homelessness issues; working to stem rising crime; promoting job creation and workforce development in higher education; and increasing transparency in the justice system and elections.

During the last legislative session, Cheney served as a ranking member on the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee. Five bills he sponsored and co-sponsored were signed into law, including House Bill 2032, which requires “paid for by” disclosures on large political yard signs, and House Bill 1962, which streamlines the voter registration process for individuals moving within Washington.

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“My commonsense approach to legislation has, I think, borne fruit over the past couple of years,” he said.

If elected, Cheney said he will focus on lowering property taxes, ensuring access to mental health treatment and advocating for safer communities.

To learn more about Cheney’s campaign, visit electgregcheney.com.

Brad Benton

Benton, 29, has a background in public accounting. He currently works in a sales role. He touts leadership in student government, sports teams and Boy Scouts.

He grew up in what is now the 18th District before going on to study accounting and political science at Whitworth University in Spokane. He graduated in 2018 and was a congressional intern in the office of U.S. Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.

Protecting personal freedoms, fighting against new taxes and tax increases, and finding a new Interstate 5 Bridge proposal — without tolls or light rail — are his top legislative priorities, he said. He added he is eager to hear more about issues important to the people of the 18th District.

“I’m running for this position because we’ve been failed by the Republicans in the 18th that we’ve sent to Olympia to represent us,” he said at Monday’s candidate forum. “They tell us they can’t do anything in the minority, and it’s not true. It’s just another long list of excuses. So, we need someone that’s going to go to Olympia and stand up and fight for us. And I’m going to do that.”

He pledged to never vote for a tax increase or a new tax.

“Your voice in Olympia has been diminished by people that don’t have what it takes to stand up to the far-left politics and policies degrading our state,” he said. “I want to go to Olympia to give you a voice.”

Benton lost a 2022 bid for the seat in the primary, finishing behind Cheney and Democrat Duncan Camacho.

To learn more about Benton’s campaign, visit bradbentonforsenate.com.

Adrian Cortes

Cortes, 47, is serving his second consecutive term on the Battle Ground City Council. He served as mayor from 2020 to 2021.

Before being elected, he served as chair for the Battle Ground Planning Commission for four years. He also serves on the C-Tran board of directors, which he chaired between 2019 and 2020.

He has worked as a special education teacher in the Camas School District since 2015, and his education experience informs his leadership, he said.

His priorities include improving education, transportation and public safety, as well as increasing affordable housing supply and decreasing rates of homelessness.

“As both a city council member and as mayor, I’ve balanced budgets on time with the city council that reduced property taxes, and I’ve reduced our utility tax rate by over 40 percent, returning $1.5 million to ratepayers,” he said Monday. “We passed a local no-income tax ordinance in our city. We increased funding to police and city roads. And we paid off our city hall and our community center. That is the kind of leadership we need in Olympia.”

Cortes added that, if elected, he will invest in workforce training programs and public libraries.

To learn more about Cortes’ campaign, visit votecortes.com.