The battle for a Washington state House seat in the 7th Legislative District pits a newcomer Democratic candidate against the Republican incumbent, who has only held the seat for a few months.
Republican Jacquelin Maycumber was appointed to the house earlier this year after Shelly Short vacated the seat to move to the Washington Senate.
Maycumber was Short’s legislative assistant. Before that, she worked in law enforcement and did biomedical research in Colorado.
Her opponent, Democrat Susan Swanson, previously served in the Navy and was a civil servant for 30 years, including working with the Department of Defense.
This house seat has long been held by Republicans, but that’s not deterring Swanson, who says she believes there are numerous Democrats, independents, and disillusioned Republicans in the northeast Washington district who will come out to support her.
“It’s like the first olive out of the bottle," Swanson said. "It’s something you look forward to, it’s something special and for all the people behind me, I’m making it easier for them, for the Democrats behind me”.
Jacquelin Maycumber hopes to continue the Republican tradition in the 7th District, and says one of her main issues is the fallout from the Hirst Supreme Court decision, which changed the way water permits were issued in the state. Counties must now ensure that any new water permits do not reduce the minimum flow requirements of many streams and rivers and also not negatively impact existing senior water users, like private wells.
“Pretty much what it does now is limit our local government and people in the area to build," Maycumber said. "So it doesn’t really take care of water, because if that were the case municipalities wouldn’t be drawing from the exact same water unregulated. It just stops people from being able to build and that’s huge, when you come from affordable housing, and being able to use the land in the way you see fit. There’s many who have wells drilled and/or getting ready to build homes that are unable to and now their land is worth nothing.”
The debate over the Hirst decision resulted in Republicans in the legislature refusing to sign off on the state’s capital budget, something that Democrat Susan Swanson feels was an inappropriate action.
“Everywhere I go there is still building going on, and building permits still being issued," Swanson said. "What I do have a problem with Hirst is that the capital budget was not passed because of it. And to hold 19,000 union and non-union jobs hostage, our children hostage, and to be unapologetic about it, and say it was the right thing to do is unconscionable."
Both candidates agree wildfire is a major threat to rural Washington communities that border forestland.
Maycumber wants to ensure that more is done to increase thinning of forested lands damaged by disease and insects.
“When you have a large number of bug kill, or timber that is not healthy, when you have catastrophic fires. But the problem is you also get these health problems, when your breathing smoke all the time, and we’re not taking care of state lands. And we need to make sure that we at the state are being responsible timber owners too, and that we take care of this timber, and don’t affect other people too, by letting it go."
Swanson thinks one way to make sure people and property are protected is to hire more firefighters.
“We need more personnel to assist in this, and I think one of the ways to do that is through education, and having partnering programs that ensure that we have a workforce in this field of firefighting, because it’s not something that people are stepping up to do,” she said.
Both candidates have opinions on the issue of wolves, and how they have impacted the northeast corner of the state.
Jacquelin Maycumber feels it’s not just something that ranchers need to be concerned about.
“As the wolf population becomes a little more dense, and moves out into these more populated areas, I do have concerns about human contact, and also children, when they wait for the bus, or go play. I think we need to think about what will policy look like, what are we going to do when we see human-wolf interactions, and how do we prevent those," Maycumber said.
In contrast, Susan Swanson thinks the issue of wolves may be overstated.
“The wolf issue impacts so few people, the ranchers and the cattleman," she said. "We already have management practices in place. We have less depredations this year compared to last year. It’s just going to get better because of the management we have in place.”
Public disclosure records indicate Republican Jacquelin Maycumber has received $69,300 in contributions, with the largest at $10,000 coming from the House Republican Organizational Committee and several $2,000 contributions from various entities, including Weyerhaeuser, the Washington Hospitality Industry, and the Washington Association of Realtors.
Democrat Susan Swanson has received less than half of what Maycumber has received. She's at $24, 500. The largest was $9,000 from Washington State Democrats, $3,500 came from Swanson herself and several $1,000 contributions from organizations including the Washington Federation of State Employees, and Win with Women.