A centrist who moves people of both parties toward policies that make sense for their community and the whole state is a lawmaker voters should treasure. The people of the 47th Legislative District have such a leader in Joe Fain, who should be reelected to the state Senate in November for a third four-year term.
With communities across Washington seeing higher rents and growing prices, both Democratic and Republican legislative candidates are talking about how Olympia can tackle the affordability crisis.
Washington state Rep. Dave Hayes gets a drumbeat of reminders these days about the lack of affordable housing in his district.
A Republican from Camano Island, Hayes says his son and daughter-in-law are paying $1,200 a month to live in a mobile home.
Hayes, a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, says he sees young deputies moving in, sometimes from other states, who then have to pay $1,800 per month in rent.
And then there are the for-sale signs Hayes sees as he goes door to door in the 10th Legislative District, which includes Island County and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties.
“I’m seeing houses advertised that are going for $350,000 or more dollars,” said Hayes. “That’s unreachable for most people.”
Campaign talk about affording rents or mortgages is spreading beyond Seattle’s pricey metro area. Towns all over Washington have seen double-digit growth in home prices.
Meanwhile, the shadow of the property-tax plan lawmakers approved last year to fund K-12 schools hangs over the elections. That plan hiked statewide property taxes everywhere in 2018, though it ultimately will lower overall property taxes in many school districts in the coming years.
But now, it has voters — and candidates like Hayes and his opponent, Democrat Dave Paul — talking about what lawmakers can do from Olympia to help.
“As I’m out doorbelling, affordable housing comes up almost every day,” Paul said.
In Island County, the median resale price of a home is now $377,900, according to the Runstad Department of Real Estate at the University of Washington.
That’s a roughly $92,000 jump from the same time period three years ago.
Like some other Republicans, Hayes wants to see changes to parts of the state’s Growth Management Act and cuts in other regulations to make it easier to get new homes built.
And he wants lawmakers to find incentives to get towns to accept higher-density housing. Legislators, he said, “need to help them with that.”
Paul, a vice president at Skagit Valley College, was one of the Democratic candidates who won more votes in the August primaries against Republican incumbents who previously weren’t thought to be in jeopardy.
He wants to give more financial incentives to encourage building, provide more training for local officials in permitting processes, and create more partnerships between government and builders to figure out where new housing stock could go within towns.
In Whatcom County’s 42nd District, Bellingham resident and first-time Democratic candidate Justin Boneau is also making housing a part of his campaign.
In that county, the median resale price of a home this year has reached $385,000, about $90,000 more than the same time period in 2015.
Boneau said he decided to run because he felt that not enough lawmakers personally experienced the economic anxieties of trying to make ends meet.
“My rent’s gone up three times in two years,” said Boneau, who topped incumbent Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, in the August primary and will face her again this fall.
Boneau, a supervisor for a state Department of Ecology litter-cleanup crew, said it’s time to “re-evaluate the ban on rent regulation at the state level.”
In Southeast King County’s 47th District, Senate Republican Floor Leader Joe Fain of Auburn is among the legislators who wants to change the state’s liability laws that have been blamed for preventing the construction of more condominiums.
The condominium shortage has left some people renting when they could have had starter homes, he said.
“Getting that condo liability thing fixed will unlock the ability for young families to build the equity that they’ve really been robbed of the last few years,” said Fain.
Fain also said the Legislature must follow through on the bill he sponsored last year and lawmakers passed to make it easier to identify buildable land and fund homelessness and low-income housing programs.
His challenger is Mona Das, a Democrat who moved to Covington last year and owns a mortgage business that she said focuses on first-time homebuyers.
Das said she moved from Seattle because of the high costs there.
“People can’t afford Seattle; I found myself in that situation as well,” she said.
She wants condominium liability reform, as well as more money for affordable housing and zoning changes to increase density.
Housing prices are no longer just a Western Washington topic.
East of the Cascades, in the 12th Legislative District, independent candidate Ann Diamond says her communities also experience housing shortages.
That district includes Chelan and Douglas counties, and parts of Grant and Okanogan counties.
“In my valley, housing costs are going up three times faster than wages,” said Diamond, who sits on the Winthrop Planning Commission. “People are living in basements, sheds.”
The current median resale home price in Okanogan County, where Winthrop is located, is $201,700. That’s a 35 percent increase from the same time period in 2015, according to the UW’s Runstad Department of Real Estate.
If elected, Diamond would be the only independent in the Legislature, and said she doesn’t intend to caucus with either political party. She faces Republican Keith Goehner in November.
Diamond wants the state to boost the Housing Trust Fund, a state program that helps to build or preserve affordable-housing units. And she wants to find ways to coordinate with real-estate interests and municipalities to increase housing stock.
In the 6th District, which includes part of Spokane, Democratic state Senate candidate Jessa Lewis wants to cut property taxes, possibly through a tax on capital gains.
Lewis argues that the property-tax plan to fund schools hits not only homeowners, but is passed on to renters, too. “And I absolutely am going to be fighting to reduce property taxes,” she said.
Like everywhere else in the state, property owners in the Spokane School District saw a tax increase for 2018. But overall property taxes funding schools are expected to drop in the coming years.
In November, Lewis will face current Rep. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, who is giving up his seat to run for Senate. Holy beat Lewis by about four percentage points in the August primary.
Republican state Sen. Joe Fain, the prime sponsor of the measure that passed last year, said Microsoft's decision was "a really powerful step forward."
By applying the plan to contractors and vendors around the country, "it really creates a pressure for those state legislatures to make a similar decision that Washington made."
“Joe is the community advocate and bipartisan leader our community needs. While the rest of our nation’s politics sometimes seems to be crashing down around us, Joe’s is a steady and thoughtful hand that brings people together to get things done. This primary election I’m voting for our Sen. Joe Fain, and I hope you’ll join me.”
Republican Senator Joe Fain of Washington State has an MBA and an undergraduate degree in Political Science. He’s been in the Senate since 2010 and has been both the Minority and Majority floor leader. Joe was the prime sponsor of the landmark legislation to create a statewide paid family and medical leave program by convening a bipartisan group of lawmakers and business and labor leaders.
Make note of the date, because we’re going to agree with Tim Eyman on something.
Stopped clocks, blind pigs and acorns — and all that — but the Mukilteo initiative promoter is correct that the Legislature acted unconstitutionally when it amended an initiative that sought to reform the deadly force standard for police shootings.
Covington Maple Valley Reporter
“Speaking with and listening to our local leaders is essential to successfully represent our community before the entire state,” said Fain, who represents Covington in the Washington State Senate. “Hearing their concerns and ideas has helped us secure funding for much needed congestion-relief projects in the area, and this year successfully partner to expedite construction and help commuters sooner.”
With a rise in violent gang activity in South King County over the last year, state lawmakers sought and secured funding in the new state budget to help prevent street gangs, especially among young people.
Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, and Reps. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines and Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, built on previous efforts to improve public safety and prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs.
“Working on gang prevention and intervention policies for a few years, we’ve learned a great deal about how kids get drawn into juvenile gangs, and we need to focus on innovative practices to break the criminal cycle before it breaks our young people,” Orwall said. “These dollars will go toward research on best practices for effective interventions to keep young adults from getting involved in gang activity that harms not only themselves, their families and neighborhoods, but endangers entire communities.”
Gang activity forces people to live with the daily threat of intimidation and harassment. Crimes such as drug dealing, vandalism, theft of personal property and automobiles, assault, rape and murder are prevalent in communities where gang membership is on the rise. Even people who are not directly affected by gang-activity also share in the indirect costs such as lower property values and higher insurance premiums, and first-responders are increasingly vulnerable to personal injury or death when responding to gang-related crimes.
The new 2017-19 state budget approved at the end of June includes $1 million for a grant program for areas with the greatest criminal street gang problems. Grants are eligible to local governments and non-profit organizations who collaborate and can demonstrate effective prevention and intervention efforts in the past. Grant recipients are also required to report on how effective the funding has been for improving community safety and the effect it’s had on at-risk youth.
“Gang violence is not isolated to one area and affects all of us throughout South King County,” Fain said. “Providing young people with alternatives to gangs makes our neighborhoods safer and ensures a better life for at-risk youth now and in the future.”
In May, city officials and police chiefs from Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Renton and other South King County cities announced a joint task force following a rise in gang activity and violence in 2017. This includes the Valley Enforcement Gangs and Narcotics Task Force, which is supported by the FBI and other national agencies.
“We know that once a young person has gotten involved in a gang or the criminal justice system it is very difficult to shift course,” Pettigrew said. “Several years ago I was able to secure funding to support young adults in avoiding or moving away from gangs, helping young people avoid mistakes that can follow them for the rest of their lives. These programs have already made a difference in our communities and I am glad that we were able to continue funding this ongoing work.”
The lawmakers also secured $75,000 for the Juvenile Rehabilitation Program, part of the state Department of Social and Health Services, to collect and analyze data from juvenile gang and gun offenses. The results will allow state officials to better target solutions and improve prevention efforts. Following review, the department will also make research-based recommendations to the Legislature that could improve public safety.
“At a time when we are seeing a significant increase in gun violence in South King County – often with direct ties back to gang violence – I and other Police Chiefs applaud the Operating Budget funding by the Legislature to continue gang intervention grants, to update and fully populate a gang data-base to give us accurate information, and to help gather more detailed numbers regarding juvenile firearms usage,” said Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas. “I truly appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Senator Joe Fain and Representative Tina Orwall on this issue, as well as the work of other legislators such as Reps. Eric Pettigrew and Pat Sullivan.”
Joe Fain, Republican state senator for Washington. Prime sponsor of a bill that passed into law last week, guaranteeing paid family leave in the state.