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Next up: the Legislature

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

Four years ago, Skip Priest was on the outside looking in after losing to Mark Miloscia in a race for state representative from the 30th District.

But today, Priest is about to join Miloscia as one of the district’s delegates to the Legislature, proving that it’s a small world politically.

Priest, a Republican, completed a political comeback this week when the official results from the Nov. 5 general election made him the winner over Democrat Greg Markley for the district’s Position 2 seat in the House of Representatives.

Their race was too close to call in earlier vote tabulations, raising the possibility of a mandatory recount if the final gap between them was less than half of 1 percent. But Wednesday’s official tally gave Priest 14,429 votes (51.1 percent) to Markley’s 13,780 (48.8 percent).

Priest will replace Rep. Maryann Mitchell, the Republican incumbent who didn’t seek re-election.

Miloscia’s advice for his new 30th District seatmate is to be patient as a newcomer to legislative politics. Despite Priest’s valuable experience of once being Federal Way’s mayor, the Olympia scene is different, Miloscia said.

“Skip’s like I was when I came to the Legislature. I was making the transition from local government,” said Miloscia, a former Lakehave Utility District commissioner. “Having that experience gives you a leg up. You know how government works.

“But the Legislature is a bigger stage. What you’re not prepared for is that you’re now dealing with 97 other state representatives and 49 senators. And there are all the lobbyists. It’s a little overwhelming at first. The energy level is breathtaking.”

Miloscia said he is “still learning vast amounts” about the legislative process but feels more comfortable entering his third two-year term, which he won this month.

“The first two years, not everybody talks to you. As soon as you’re re-elected, then people take you more seriously. That’s something else Skip will find out,” Miloscia said.

Although Priest will likely find mentors among his fellow Republican lawmakers, Miloscia is looking forward to working with him and providing any help if asked.

“I’ll be able to deal very well with him. He’s known for not always taking partisan stands. He’s not coming in with a hard ideology,” Miloscia said.

Priest will be sworn in with the other lawmakers-elect when the session begins in January. Before then, he’ll join other first-time legislators for a capitol orientation Dec. 3. He’ll also attend meetings with other legislators of his party, as will Democrat counterparts.

The 30th District’s third delegate in Olympia is Sen. Tracey Eide, a Democrat who was re-elected this month.

The Legislature faces potentially landmark state budget decisions when it convenes its 2003 session in January. At or near the top of the list will be the response to a rejection by voters statewide this month of Referendum 51’s proposed taxes for financing transportation projects.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and editor@fedwaymirror.com

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