Incumbent Pat Sullivan sees his strong community ties and work to reform education funding as reasons to keep him as state representative for House Legislative District 47. Challenger Rodrigo Yanez promises he would help stop raising taxes and work to follow the will of the people based on initiative votes.
Sullivan and Yanez are the two choices on the Aug. 17 primary election ballot for Position No. 2 in the 47th district. Both will advance to the Nov. 2 general election. Ballots have been mailed by King County Elections. Voters must have the ballots postmarked by Aug. 17 in the all-mail election to be counted.
The 47th district covers Kent’s East Hill as well as Covington, Black Diamond and portions of Auburn, Renton and Maple Valley.
Sullivan, 48, D-Covington, has served six years in the House. He was elected to two-year terms in 2004, 2006 and 2008. He is a former Covington mayor and Council member. He lost his initial campaign for the House in 2002.
“I know this community really well,” Sullivan said in an Aug. 4 phone interview. “I’ve gone door to door the past eight years. I have been a member of the Kiwanis, Rotary and served on several non-profits. I worked with community leaders in Covington, Kent, Renton and Auburn. I know the needs of the community and I can best serve the needs of the 47th district.”
The economy, education and transportation rank as the top issues among voters Sullivan has visited. Education funding reform for kindergarten through the 12th grade continues to be the primary focus for Sullivan, who has lived 19 years in Covington.
“I’ve been part of the legislation to reform education and better fund the system,” Sullivan said. “I want to see that through. We’re getting close to real significant improvements and I want to finish the job.”
Because both candidates will advance to the General Election, Sullivan doesn’t expect the Primary results to mean a whole lot.
“I don’t put too much weight on the primary with just the two of us,” Sullivan said. “The voter turnout will be very different in the two elections.”
Sullivan expects a much higher participation in the November election because of state initiatives on the ballot as well as the U.S. Senate race.
Yanez, 61, of Kent, decided to run for his first elected office after the Legislature voted earlier this year to suspend Initiative 960 through July 2011.
Voters passed I-960 in 2007 to require that new or higher taxes be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature or a simple majority of the people in a statewide vote. The Legislature suspended that rule in order to pass new taxes with a simple majority vote by the House and Senate on bottled water, pop, candy, cigarettes and other taxes to raise more revenue because of budget shortfalls.
“I got upset with the way things were going and the repeal of I-960,” said the Republican Yanez in a Aug. 3 phone interview. “That prompted me like a call that is enough is enough. I decided to participate and make a difference rather than complaining. The people put forward an initiative for two-thirds majority to raise taxes and I would never go against that.”
Yanez has lived in the Panther Lake area of Kent for 19 years. He and his son run Yanez International, a home-based business that serves as agricultural export agents for companies to sell products such as peas, beans, lentils and birdseed. He previously worked as Trade Director for the Saskatchewan provincial government.
Yanez graduated with a marketing degree from the University of Chile and became a businessman in Canada before moving in the 1990s to Washington to start his current company that used to operate out of a Tukwila office. He became a U.S. citizen in 2002.
One of Yanez’s top goals would be to reduce spending by the state.
“I think they’ve gone a bit crazy with the money like there’s no end to it,” Yanez said. “I don’t think it’s a lack of money. I believe if you look at the state treasury it has enough money but the allocation of money is not being done right.”
That includes education, where Yanez said more money needs to be spent in the classroom rather than for administrators.
Yanez hopes to make a strong showing in the primary.
“If there is large support (for me) it will make him (Sullivan) worry and help others come forward to support me and get the momentum going,” Yanez said.
The Municipal League of King County gave Sullivan an “outstanding” rating and Yanez a “good” rating.
Through Aug. 4, Sullivan had raised $79,133 for his campaign and spent $45,300 while Yanez had raised $9,455 and spent $4,266, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Web site at www.pdc.wa.gov.
Legislators are paid $42,106 per year.
For information about the candidates from their Web sites, go to www.votepatsullivan.com and www.vote4yanez.com.