Opinion

Republicans clash for Miloscia's state rep. seat | Roegner

Two Democrats and three Republicans are running to replace Democratic State Rep. Mark Miloscia, who is running for state auditor.

We covered the Democrats last week. This week, we look at the Republicans: Federal Way City Councilwoman Linda Kochmar, Federal Way School Board President Tony Moore, and Jerry Galland. The 30th District leans Democratic, but initial conventional wisdom was that it could be Moore and Kochmar who advance to the general in an all-Republican final.

However, with Democrats Roger Flygare and Thom Macfarlane appearing more competitive, that view has changed — and the three Republicans may be fighting for one spot in the final, rather than two.

That distinction is particularly important to Kochmar. She is more moderate than the other two Republicans and will need to attract moderates and independents — and may be looking for some crossover Democrats. All three are fiscal conservatives, but have some differences after that. Kochmar has the most elected experience, having served on the city council for 14 years and as mayor in the council-manager form of government.

Kochmar ran for mayor after the change in government and lost in the primary. She points to city accomplishments in transportation, a new City Hall and Federal Way Community Center as examples of leadership. She is a risk manager at Lakehaven Utility District and has been active in regional affairs on behalf of the city. Her endorsements include a long list of mayors and council members from surrounding cities.

Kochmar opposes legalization of marijuana and is against any tax increase, but would not take a position on gay marriage. She is pro-life. She believes education and public safety are the two highest priorities. She also says she believes education should be funded in a separate budget from the rest of the general fund.

In direct disagreement with Moore, she is critical of standards based grading, saying it doesn’t reward high achieving students.

With her council experience, Kochmar knows city issues well, and attends almost every public event. She is friendly, well liked and always asks “how are things going” of constituents in her eagerness to help.   Moore, as president of the school board, has been the leader in implementing several controversial measures in the school district designed to improve students’ success, including the grading system and how students are assigned to advanced classes.

Moore opposes both legalization of marijuana and gay marriage, and is pro-life. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, he declined to take a position on charter schools, and has been endorsed by two groups who backed a law that links teacher evaluations to personnel decisions and supports charter schools. However, in my interview with him, he said he was opposed to charter schools as it “just transfers the problem.”

Moore has not signed the Norquist “no tax pledge” and while he says taxes should be a last resort, he also says “there might come a time when we need to make an investment.”

Moore has been endorsed by a majority of the school board and several legislators. He has been pointed in his criticism of City Hall and Kochmar for building and subsidizing the Community Center.

Moore is a local businessman and this is his fourth run for the Legislature. His experience shows in the manner in which his campaign is put together, and he may be the only candidate who will use television commercials.

Moore is one of the more accomplished speakers in the race. He is very knowledgeable about education issues, is well prepared and usually has a ready smile.

Jerry Galland has run unsuccessfully for the Legislature and the South King Fire and Rescue board of commissioners. He has been a community activist and led the opposition to the city annexing a section of unincorporated King County, where he lives.

He is unlikely to raise as much money as the other candidates and will rely on doorbelling and community forums. He is easy to spot, as he drives around town in a miniature convertible roadster with “Galland” red signs on the side. Galland is probably the most conservative of all the candidates. He is a property and personal rights advocate, opposes gay marriage and is pro-life. He is unsure about his position on marijuana because of his deference of personal freedom. That deference extends to charter schools as well, as he believes parents should have a choice and the “competition isn’t a bad thing.”

While he doesn’t like taxes and would like to look at current loopholes, Galland did say “closing the door on taxes without discussion would be irresponsible.” He supports education and wants to put more money into classrooms. He doesn’t know how he will respond to the court ruling on education.

Galland is a millwright, down to earth in his speaking style, and in his own words “a plain talker.” He is affable, but can also be passionate in his beliefs, even when they conflict with each other. Galland has been endorsed by Mark Freitas from the SKFR board.  Galland is the wild card in the race. He may not be able to raise enough money to win, but he may play a significant role in who does. Galland will compete with Tony Moore for conservative votes, while Moore competes with Kochmar for moderate Republican votes and independents.

If Galland can create enough momentum to  siphon votes away from Moore, he could end up helping Kochmar. Kochmar is not only competing with Moore for moderate votes, but she is competing with the Democrats for independents who lean Democratic but could swing her way if she can raise enough money to get them her message.

Moore and Kochmar received a “very good” rating from the Municipal League. Galland did not submit a questionnaire to the League, which typically uses other public sources when a questionnaire is not submitted. Galland received a “not qualified” rating.

Watch how the candidates craft their message in debates, mailings and newspaper ads to appeal to specific blocks of voters in what appears to be a close race to advance to the November final.

Barring last minute issues, the most likely to advance  are Tony Moore and Roger Flygare, with Moore the probable front-runner in a traditional Republican-Democrat ideological runoff.

However, if either Macfarlane or Kochmar advance, the dynamics in the race would change dramatically.

 

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