Four compete to represent 35th Legislative District


Republicans Patti Case, Travis Couture and Tiffany Sevruk, and Democrat Sandy Kaiser are competing in the Aug. 2 primary to replace Union resident Drew MacEwen in representing District 35, position 2 in the state Legislature.

The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 8 general election.

MacEwen is running for the state Senate in a bid to replace Tim Sheldon, who is retiring.

Patti Case

What are the biggest challenges facing Mason County?

Mason County faces many issues brought on by failed leadership in Olympia and by extreme policies from Seattle.

First, housing affordability and high rent costs are hurting working families and young people. Our political leadership has failed to address this crisis. Here in Mason County, we need to increase the supply of housing at every price point, we need land-use planning right-sized for our community, and we need streamlined permitting to save money and increase housing supply now.

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Gas prices are also costing local families, with nearly half of our working residents commuting out of county for work. Here in Washington, our gas tax is the third highest in the nation, yet it's less and less effective in funding transportation projects as our vehicles become more fuel efficient.

Property crime is on the rise, people feel less safe in their homes and business owners are paying the price for shoplifting and other criminal activity. Our local sheriff and police departments are doing their best to deal with crime, but they have been impacted by poorly crafted legislation that endangers our law enforcement officials and the public they're sworn to protect. Mason County also needs more jail space and comprehensive mental health solutions.

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Finally, we need to give local parents more control over their kids' schools and we need to help children acquire the skills to get good jobs in the future. Our children were sent

home from school for a year and a half, and many of them struggled to learn in an online environment. They returned to school with no plan to make up for that loss of learning. At the same time, parents and other caregivers who had a window into learning felt locked out of the education process when they tried to get involved. We need to return education policy making to our local school boards and our communities.

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What are the biggest challenges facing Washington state?

Inflation and the high cost of living has people hurting. While some may say that inflation is a national problem, our state Legislature failed to help and, instead of cutting high taxes or adding to the rainy day fund, they spent every dime of the budget surplus.

That's why I am running. We need new leadership in Olympia. Tax relief should have been Olympia's first priority; instead, the majority party raised taxes and fees yet again during the 2022 legislative session.

Threats to public safety and a spiraling crime rate are the direct result of radical, anti-police policies coming from Seattle that were passed in Olympia last year. We need to repeal those extreme measures and give law enforcement the tools they need to help control crime and make communities safer.

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The recent Washington Supreme Court decision affirming education as the "paramount duty" of the state caused an infusion of money into our K-12 system, yet here in Mason County our test scores have plummeted. We need to get money to students and teachers rather than spending on administrative processes.

What would you try to do to improve the lives of Mason County residents?

The hardworking people of Mason County need tax relief, now. Over 30 other states have proposed or enacted some kind of relief, yet our governor refuses to even consider it. A reduction or elimination of the gas tax is in order to put money back in our citizens' pockets. At the same time, we should dedicate the sales tax on automobile purchases to fund transportation so that ALL who use our roads are paying for transportation infrastructure. Then we should reduce state sales tax, which unfairly impacts low-income families.

Politicians love to offer lower taxes, but I have specific plans for greater efficiency in state government to ensure those lower rates can be maintained. Whether it's forest practices or planning, building codes or education, every one of us knows of redundant, process-laden policies that could be streamlined for greater efficiency. We need a systematic and sustained effort to create a more efficient and accountable state government.

We can and must support our law enforcement officials. It will be my intent to listen carefully to our Shelton Police chief and our new Mason County sheriff as they outline their needs, and then do whatever I can to support them – not the least of which is to restore police pursuit and stem the attitude of lawlessness that seems to have overtaken our urban areas before it makes its way to our great county.

We have seven school districts in this county. I will work to restore local control of education and to support all efforts to involve parents, business leaders and the local community in ensuring our education system in Mason County optimizes student success.

We need to keep construction of the Belfair Bypass (now known as the Highway 3 Freight Corridor) moving and finally achieve completion of this important transportation infrastructure. When I first heard of this project over 25 years ago, the pricetag was $5 million. Now it's sitting at $72 million and counting. It's time to get it done so that our community can move on to the next transportation priorities.

Name a public figure, past or present, you admire, and why.

I grew up listening to my parents discuss politics and policy at the dinner table – and the breakfast table, and in the car.... you get the idea. I cut my teeth on the "get it done" attitude exhibited by Governor Dan Evans. His integrity, his listening skills and his willingness to reach across the aisle to enact good policy helped to form my own skill set in facilitating good policy decisions.

What are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade?

The U.S. Supreme Court decision will have little impact here in Washington state as pro-choice laws have been in place since the 1970s. Both the state Legislature and the voters have spoken on this topic.

Sandy Kaiser

What are the biggest challenges facing Mason County?

I'm running for office because I believe our rural folks deserve the same chances for success as people in urban parts of our state. To meet that challenge, we need more opportunities for family-wage jobs; schools that offer high-quality education and a safe environment; reliable, affordable broadband; access to good health and child care. I will fight on behalf of Mason County to make sure state government supports these critical needs in the way it supports urban counties to the east and north of us. These are the building blocks of prosperity and stability for our region, and we deserve our share.

What are the biggest challenges facing Washington state?

Our state tax system puts an unfair and heavy burden on working people and seniors who are living on Social Security. Both pay a large part of their income in consumption taxes, which are hardly noticed by those in the highest income brackets. Our state is overtaxing those

limited-income seniors, and the working men, women and families who keep our economy moving. At a time of high gas prices and inflation, it's important to quit relying on our most vulnerable populations to pay for our schools, hospitals and roads.

What would you try to do to improve the lives of Mason County residents?

As your representative, I will put our local interests first. Our local transportation infrastructure and affordable housing will be top priorities. Our young adults are finding it tough to afford to live in our communities. Public safety and support for law enforcement is also vital to improving our quality of life. Officers need equipment, training and additional personnel in order to answer 911 calls in an hour of need. Our incredible forests and waterways support recreation and tourism dollars, in addition to our forest products and shellfish industries. We must conserve and protect what makes our region such a remarkable place to live.

Name a public figure, past or present, you admire, and why.

I believe Dan Evans (former Republican governor of Washington, U.S. senator and president of The Evergreen State College) is one of the most influential leaders in the history of our state. He represents a proud old-school tradition of moderation and of reaching across the aisle to solve problems and get things done. He fought in World War II, led our state through three terms as governor and six years in the Senate. He is a great conservationist, helped re-invent higher education and at the age of 96 just finished his autobiography. There's a lot to admire about Dan Evans.

What are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade?

Access to reproductive health care is a fundamental American right. Period. The Supreme Court's decision to deny that right will mean millions of American women will lose access to it. The issue of reproductive rights belongs to a woman, in consultation with her family and her physician, not to the government and not to one particular faith or another. Our state currently protects reproductive rights, through legislation endorsed in 1970 by former Republican Gov. Dan Evans. However, we can't take anything for granted. That's one reason this election is so important. As state representative, you can count on me to fight relentlessly to defend these rights.

Tiffany Sevruk

What are the biggest challenges facing Mason County?

The biggest challenge facing Mason County is the economy. Due to inflation and the rising cost of living, residents are struggling to pay for gas, groceries, and daily expenses. Small business owners are also struggling with increased costs and have to absorb them or pass them on to consumers. The Legislature needs to provide tax relief and has many options for doing so. I worked in the Legislature for over a decade, and know we can cut the budget without affecting services. If elected, I will push for immediate cuts to the state sales tax and gas tax. 

What are the biggest challenges facing Washington state?

Washington state has many challenges, but most significant are education, the state budget, and housing. I have experience in all these areas and will bring immediate solutions and work to implement them. 

What would you do to improve the lives of Mason County residents?

I've always worked to improve the lives of others, currently as a board director for North Thurston Public Schools. In this position, I've shown that I listen to and stand by my community. Prior to that, I was on the board at a private Christian school, Core Team member to establish the Thurston County Coalition Against Trafficking, and volunteer personal finance instructor in low-income schools and community centers. I talk with people from all walks of life on a daily basis, and take the job of representing them seriously. I'll serve Mason County and Washington residents by using my experience to improve our schools, cut taxes, and change laws to address our housing crisis.

Name a public figure, past or present, you admire, and why. 

I admire public figures who consistently put people before politics. While there are many who come to mind, this is a good time to acknowledge and thank Sen. Tim Sheldon as he retires. During his time representing the 35th Legislative District, he was known for listening to everyone and making decisions based on what was best for his constituents. 

What are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade?

I support states' rights and representative government. This sends abortion laws back to the states for the people to decide, just as the Constitution intended.

Travis Couture

What are the biggest challenges facing Mason County?

The state Legislature has passed laws that handcuff our police. We have some of the lowest per-capita police in Washington to cover 1,000 square miles, sometimes only having a handful of deputies on the road on any given shift. This makes it difficult for the police to do their job, and makes rural counties like ours a soft target for crime. I deeply respect the service of our officers, and I want to get them all the training, tools, funding, and resources they need to do their job of keeping us safe. We need more deputies on the road, not less, and they need to have the ability to chase criminals again. I'm proudly endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police – Olympic Mountain Lodge, which covers law enforcement in Mason County, because they recognize I am the candidate in this race that is deeply committed to restoring public safety.

Inflation hits communities like ours harder than most. We are short about 250K homes in Washington, and the lack of affordable housing options for families drives up the median home price far above median incomes. In Mason County, 81% of homeowners cannot afford to purchase a median-priced home. Put simply, the dream of home ownership is more expensive and less attainable than ever.

Bad energy policies push gas prices higher than ever. New rules passed by the Legislature will cause fuel prices to rise more in the coming months, which could be an additional dollar more on top of current prices.

What are the biggest challenges facing Washington state?

A huge challenge in Washington state is the lack of balance in our state government. Sometimes the best solutions in government come when all the stakeholders of an issue get a seat at the table, with time and care put in to making good legislation that lifts up citizens. But too frequently the majority party in charge does not listen to experts, or even work with the other side. If the Legislature could just seek some balance, it would be for the better of all of Washington.

Yes, we need to restore public safety, we need to do something real about homelessness, affordable housing, and combat inflation with significant cuts to the sales, gas, and property taxes to help people through this period. But without a more balanced government, accomplishing those tasks in a timely manner that has a positive impact for residents is more difficult.

What would you do to improve the lives of Mason residents?

I want to restore public safety, including helping with incentives to recruit more deputies on our roads, assist with getting a new jail, and repealing anti-police legislation.

The state had record revenues, and instead of putting some money away in a rainy-day fund, or giving citizens some tax relief, they spent it all, and we don't have anything to show for it. I propose cutting the state sales tax, imposing a gas tax holiday, and providing property tax relief to give people a break from inflationary prices.

Some Mason County school districts have educational outcomes like 13% comprehension in math, and under 50% comprehension in language and science. Each year, the Legislature boosts the funding, lowers the standards, and sends unfunded mandates to our rural schools that contribute to higher levies. I will promote school choice as I believe competition is greatly needed and backed by voters.

I will be a defender of your constitutional rights. I support the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and the protection of your property rights. I am the only candidate in my race who has previously been A rated by the National Rifle Association, and awarded "outstanding" ratings for the protection of property rights.

Name a public figure, past or present, you admire, and why?

As a veteran and an admirer of history, I really admire and have come to appreciate Ulysses Grant, both as a general and a president. Without Grant, we may not have won the Civil War, and there was no one more qualified at his time to lead the country through the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. We face times of great division in our country now, but as Americans we always find a way to prevail and move forward. Leaders like Grant embody the leadership and American spirit that make us who we are.

What are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade?

I am pro-life. I agree with the Supreme Court's decision. I think it's important to note that the SCOTUS simply gave the power back to the states to decide abortion laws. Here in Washington, that means nothing has changed, and likely won't for the foreseeable future.

Author Bio

Gordon Weeks, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
[email protected]


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