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Battle for seats in the state house heats up

The race for the Position 1 seat in the House of Representatives features three candidates who have successfully run for public office, yet never served in the Legislature.

The trio are chasing an empty seat, due to incumbent Dan Roach’s decision to leave state politics and run for a post on the Pierce County Council.

The hopefuls include Republicans Shawn Bunney and Cathy Dahlquist, along with Democrat Peggy Levesque.

Bunney undoubtedly has the greatest name recognition throughout the district, having served a pair of four-year terms on the Pierce County Council. A term-limits provision keeps him from running again. He’s an attorney, having graduated from the University of Puget Sound Law School, and worked as an attorney before being elected to office.

Bunney boasts of his budget-making ability, touting Pierce County budgets that did not require tax increases, and says he will take those same skills to Olympia.

Important issues at the state level, he believes, are job creation, prioritizing law enforcement and protecting services for the elderly and military veterans.

Dahlquist, a two-term member of the Enumclaw School Board, is an avowed political conservative.

“We need to send conservatives to Olympia, not more tax-and-spend career politicians,” she writes in the voters’ pamphlet. “Government must live within its means just like we do in the real world.”

She has added a spark to the campaign by accusing Bunney of using taxpayer money to send out a Pierce County Council mailing that was, in her view, a campaign piece. She has criticized Bunney for voting for a salary increase that bumped his own income.

She holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Alabama and, with her husband, operates a small architectural firm.

Levesque is in her second term as mayor of the small community of South Prairie and, before that, served eight years on the City Council.

Campaign literature advertises Levesque as a voice for middle families who work hard and play by the rules. As a state legislator, she said, her priorities will be keeping taxes low, investing in campaigns that will create jobs and ensuring quality education for kids.

She has been active in the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition, along with a handful of other organizations helping South Prairie and the White River School District. She is a former public school employee, former small-business owner and an activist for homecare workers.

The Position 2 race is different in that it features a longtime legislator seeking re-election, challenged by two opponents.

Christopher Hurst was twice elected to a House seat, stepped away for two terms and has served two more.

He has challenged his party’s status quo by filing as an Independent Democrat, showing his dissatisfaction with the way many things get done in Olympia. For example, he voted against suspending voter-approved Initiative 960 and disagreed with his party on crucial budget items.

As a retired police detective, Hurst has advocated for tough sentences for sex offenders and violent offenders; as chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, he oversees criminal justice issues working through the Legislature.

Republican Daniel Geske is seeking public office for the first time. He has earned a two-year degree from Green River Community College and now attends the University of Washington Tacoma, majoring in politics, philosophy and economics.

He emphasizes simple, sound principles: less government spending, less regulation and less taxation. He promises to be “a voice for individual liberty within government.” He complains lobbyists wield too much power in Olympia and pledges not to accept money from such groups.

Patrick Reed works for the Secretary of State as an operations manager in a division dealing with new businesses in the state. He lists work on statewide committees working on issues to help businesses succeed.

“This much is obvious: Olympia is broken,” Reed said in his voters’ pamphlet statement. He placed the blame on one-party rule, taking a shot at Democrats who control the House, Senate and governor’s office.

Reed hopes to help restore political balance to Olympia by preaching the ideals of “free enterprise, personal responsibility and opportunity for all.”

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