Plenty going on in the 31st District

There has been plenty of activity in the world of 31st Legislative District politics lately, discounting anything that might have been occurring in Olympia.

On the home front, one candidate prepared to announce her first run for a seat in the House of Representatives, a former House candidate announced his bid for a position in the Senate, an incumbent House member confirmed his plan to run for countywide office and the district’s incumbent senator landed in hot water with fellow members of the Republican party.

Seeking a House seat

Preparing to launch her candidacy for the Position 1 seat in the House of Representatives was Cathy Dahlquist.

Currently a member of the Enumclaw School Board, where she’s beginning a second, four-year term, Dahlquist will kick things off Friday night with an event at the Enumclaw Expo Center fieldhouse.

She said her experience with the school board was a key factor in deciding to chase a seat in the state Legislature.

“Decision are made in Olympia that impact school districts,” she said, noting a direct correlation between state lawmakers and issues like transportation and the providing of social services.

Also contributing to her decision to run was the architectural business she owns with her husband Jeff.

Regulations passed in Olympia “trickle down to mom-and-pop businesses like ours,” she said.

An avowed fiscal conservative, Dahlquist said jumping into legislative politics “was an easy decision for me.”

Running for the Senate

Formally announcing his candidacy Friday for the 31st District seat in the state Senate was Ron Weigelt.

A former resident of Buckley who now lives in Bonney Lake, Weigelt is not stranger to running for elective office. He was a member of the Buckley City Council from 2004 to 2009 and made an unsuccessful bid for the House of Representatives two years ago.

A Seattle native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration while also spending a dozen years in the U.S. Army.

After working for the Seattle Housing Authority and serving as a labor negotiator for King County, he joined Public Health-Seattle and King County where he and his staff are responsible for the human resources program.

“Working together we can work through our budget crisis and improve our schools, our communities, and our government itself,” he said. “I have always placed community priorities over political partisanship and I will do the same working for us in Olympia.”

Imcumbent senator

voted out of caucus

Making the biggest regional news during the weekend was 31st District Sen. Pam Roach. The Senate Republican caucus voted the outspoken, veteran legislator out of the caucus meetings for this Legislative session and the remainder of the year.

According to Roach both sides can revisit the issue when the 2011 Legislative session convenes.

Contacted Saturday, Roach said the issue stems from a dispute she had with Mike Hoover, the Republican Senate attorney, during a 2009 caucus meeting. According to the senator there was discussion in the caucus meeting concerning whether a press release for another Republican senator should be sent out.

“I asked him, ‘What are we paying you for?,’” Roach said. “Was I outspoken to him? Yes.”

Roach said she later apologized to Hoover.

Roach said the move to oust her from the caucus goes deeper than the single incident with Hoover. She alleged Sen. Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla, Senate minority leader, is behind the move. She said she has been in trouble with the caucus because, “I have been vocal, pointing out the failings of leadership. We have a myriad of problems in our caucus.”

Caucus meetings are convened behind closed doors, giving party members the opportunity to discuss issues and plot strategy. Roach said being booted out of the caucus does not affect her ability to vote on measures on the Senate floor, not does it impact her committee assignments.

“It’s uncommon, but it doesn’t affect the voters,” Roach said of the move against her. “I work the district very hard.”

Roach said when the caucus voted to ban her, “(I) had no opportunity to talk (and) I had no idea what was happening. It’s not like a court of law. It is a star chamber.”

House member to

seek different seat

With a decade of service in Olympia under his belt, Dan Roach has shifted his political aspirations a bit closer to home.

The 31st District Republican hasn’t made an official announcement, but has confirmed he will seek election to the Pierce County Council during the fall elections.

The Bonney Lake resident, now serving his fifth two-year term in the state House of Representatives, will run for the Position 1 seat to be vacated by Shawn Bunney. Bunney, of Lake Tapps, is closing out his second term, the maximum allowed.

During a Tuesday phone interview, Roach said he won’t make a formal announcement until the current session of the Legislature adjourns. The announcement will likely come in mid- to late-March.

“I really enjoy being a public servant,” Roach said, adding that family responsibilities are among the primary reasons for his decision to chase a seat on the county council. He and wife Melanie have four young children, the latest arriving just a few months ago.

Roach’s name appears on the state Public Disclosure Commission’s Web site, which shows he has collected in excess of $60,000 in campaign donations. Roach said he legally is required to contact each of the donors with his change in campaign plans. If the donor gives permission, Roach can keep the money for his county council race; otherwise, he must refund the money.

Roach’s position in the House has already drawn plenty of attention. Three candidates have filed paperwork with the PDC, a step necessary to begin campaigning and collecting money. The hopefuls, so far, are Republican Cathy Dahlquist of Enumclaw and Democrats Raymond Bunk and Ron Weigelt, both of Bonney Lake. Additionally, Patrick Reed of Sumner has indicated he’ll run for a House seat but has not indicated which position he will pursue.

Also up for election in the fall is the 31st District’s Position 2 seat, current held by Democrat Christopher Hurst of Greenwater.

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