The Seventh District is one of the biggest in the state. It covers parts of 10 counties, including north Spokane, and because most of that is rural, campaigning door-to-door isn’t an efficient use of time.
So, candidates such as Sen. Shelly Short (R-Addy) often meet voters at events such as the annual cider fest in the town of Marcus, population about 180. It’s along Lake Roosevelt, about 15 miles northwest of Colville.
“These community events, the parades, the fairs, Fathers’ Day rodeo, all of those things are where you see people gathered. And we’ve always said that’s our rural form of doorbelling,” Short said.
State Highway 25 runs right past the town. You’d miss it if you weren’t paying attention, but on cider fest day, Marcus is a destination for hundreds of people. State troopers re-route traffic on the highway so that classic cars, fire engines and Cub Scouts can have a short parade route. Passengers in the cars throw candy for the kids. Shelly Short shakes hands with people along the route.
The Seventh has long been a rural district. Now it dips into suburban Spokane, which requires its representatives to think about urban issues too. But Short says she hasn’t changed her approach much.
“I think most folks want us to make sure we’re doing thoughtful balanced budgets, making sure that we’re helping our small businesses and not being a burden. And so those things, kind of, they cross the urban and rural divide all at the same time," she said.
Short is from Addy, between Colville and Chewelah. Her political career includes stints as an aide to Fifth Congressional District Representatives George Nethercutt and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She served three full terms as a state House member, and early in her fourth term, during this year’s session, was chosen to replace Brian Dansel as the district’s state senator.
“Changing in the middle of session was a little different. Feel like you’re playing catch up," Short said. "I started bills in the House that I really wanted to get through the process so you’re really coordinating very quickly with people.”
Short led at least a couple of bills through the process this year. One provides tax incentives for an Alberta company called HiTest Sand, which recently announced plans to build a silicon processing plant just south of Newport.
“I didn’t know if they were going to ultimately be able to pull it off, but they did and they just made that formal announcement in Newport. They’re building an entirely new manufacturing plant; 130-to-150 really good family wage jobs," she said. "They’re going to have to meet all the permits. You know, they’re meeting with all the regulatory agencies, nothing sidestepped. But I am super proud to have been a part of that.”
Short went against her party’s leaders and voted against an increase in the state property tax designed to satisfy a state Supreme Court mandate that Washington spend more money for public schools. For most or all of the state, it means higher property taxes in 2018, though in many places, taxes will stabilize or even go down in 2019.
“I think the state property tax is probably a piece of how we do it, but we need to be thoughtful based on the standpoint of what we’re doing to property taxpayers. We changed a system that’s been in place for many decades and so I truly think that we will be continuing to massage it and figure out if that was the right way to go," Short said.
Short says she agrees with the decision of her caucus to withhold a vote on the state capital budget until Senate Democrats work with them to address a state Supreme Court decision known as Hirst. The decision has brought uncertainty to people planning to drill new wells for homes and businesses. Senate Republicans say that could essentially stop development in many rural and suburban areas.
Shelly Short is challenged by Democrat Karen Hardy in the November election.