Opinion

Federal Way Democrats battle for state rep. | Bob Roegner

Over the next three weeks we will take a look at the 30th District candidates for the state House of Representatives.

Position one is a key local race this year. Democratic incumbent Mark Miloscia is vacating the seat to run for state auditor. Republicans want to reduce the Democratic majority in the House, and have three well-known candidates in the field. Democrats want to keep the seat in their column and have two candidates.

We’ll discuss the Democrats for position one this week, the Republicans for position one next week, and for the third week, we’ll examine the three candidates for position two.

Roger Flygare and Thom Macfarlane have both been involved in Democratic politics for many years. Flygare has lived in the district most of his adult life and ran for the Federal Way City Council last year. That was his first race for public office and helped him establish some name familiarity. He also learned all the steps candidates have to go through if they are to be competitive.

Flygare lost that race, but he improved his rating from the Municipal League from “adequate” last year to “very good” this year —  suggesting he learned some valuable lessons.

Due to his court reporting business, Flygare also has become experienced and knowledgeable on how to work on legislative issues. Flygare is a low-key speaker with a wry sense of humor. Politics run in the family, as his father-in-law was former state Sen. Frank Warnke.

In a surprise, Flygare has raised the most money of all the candidates, including a sizable loan from himself to his campaign. Combined with his improved name familiarity, Flygare is in a good position.

Flygare favors marriage equality and supports the decriminalization of marijuana, although he would oppose legislation that would violate federal law. He is opposed to charter schools, but likes the Federal Way Public Academy. He believes supporting education is the highest priority and would support revenue increases, if it became necessary. If the sales tax could be eliminated, he would consider an income tax to provide necessary funding for state services, jobs and education.

Flygare is a businessman, but also a traditional Democrat. He is a strong proponent of collective bargaining and has received support from several unions, including the endorsement of South King Fire and Rescue firefighters. He also has the support of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and Rep. Miloscia.

Thom Macfarlane has lived in the area since 1996, and does job searches for the technology industry. Macfarlane has a degree in public affairs and has experience working as a staff member in the Oregon Legislature. He says that experience has prepared him to appreciate other points of view.

This is his first run for office, and the field contains candidates who have run several times and have high name familiarity in the district. As a result, Macfarlane may not be able to raise as much money, although he should raise enough to get his message out.

However, at the July 10 debate, he was one of the better speakers. He was direct in his criticism of city government on economic development, the city’s lack of progress on downtown, and by association, Republican candidate Linda Kochmar, who is a city council member.

Macfarlane said he doesn’t feel the district would be supportive of a labor candidate or one who would follow the party line, which may have been a reference to Flygare. He describes himself as a centrist, and to win, he needs to wedge himself between Flygare and Kochmar to attract middle-ground voters.

His policy positions also reflect this strategy, as they may appeal to both sides of the center. He is opposed to gay marriage because he believes the district is opposed. He is pro-choice, but against legalizing marijuana while favoring medical use. He is against charter schools because it might take money from public schools. He wants to restore cuts to education and reduce class size. He wants to review tax exemptions, although he wasn’t specific about which ones.

Macfarlane feels we need to increase revenue by generating more jobs, and he would “replace the sales tax with a progressive flat income tax.” He believes a state representative should reflect the views of his district, although he recognizes that would be difficult in a district with split ideologies.

Macfarlane has been endorsed by State Rep. Cindy Rue and received a “good” rating from the Municipal League.

Even though the 30th District may lean Democratic, this race was viewed by many as one where the Republicans were likely to win — and possibly even have two Republicans in the final. Flygare’s fundraising, union support and name familiarity, along with Macfarlane’s aggressiveness, speaking skills and strategy, have started to change the political prognosis.

Watch to see if Flygare can cement his support among traditional Democratic voting blocks and secure the nomination. Or, if Macfarlane can claim enough voters from Flygare and Kochmar to win the primary from the middle.

 

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