The 2014 political season kicked into gear last week when Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, announced she is challenging Sen. Pam Roach, also a Republican, for the 31st District Senate seat.
Dahlquist has been elected twice to the House and served on the Enumclaw School District board of directors prior to running for the House.
Roach, from rural Auburn, stated she will be seeking a seventh term for her seat.
Jonathon Dunn, D-Lake Tapps, initially registered with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission to run for the Senate seat against Roach, but switched to Dahlquist’s House seat following her decision to run for the Senate.
Dahlquist said during a phone interview Friday she decided to run for the Senate because she believes, “It’s the right thing for the voters of the 31st District.”
A central issue for Dahlquist is education and reform of the education system.
Dahlquist said the next steps for education in this state is to fulfill the mandates of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, which will mean reforming the entire framework and funding.
The Supreme Court ruled in January 2012 the Legislature was violating the constitutional rights of students by not fully funding public education from kindergarten through high school. The court ordered the Legislature to make steady, real and measurable progress each year to fully fund K-12 public education by 2018.
Dahlquist said, “There are those who say more money will change everything, but the court said it is not all about more money. What is best for kids will not necessarily be what is best for politicians.”
Dahlquist said pouring more money into the same system “will not get the results…. I have an opportunity to go to the Senate and help with education policy and funding.”
Dahlquist was in a leadership position for the Republicans in the House on education. She said she left her position near the end of the session because she had already decided to run for the Senate. By resigning the position the House could appoint someone else for upcoming negotiations on education.
“I didn’t want to leave them empty handed,” she said.
In Dahlquist’s press release announcing her run for the Senate, she wrote, “We have a lot of challenges. We can fix them, but only if we leave partisanship at the door. We can have the best schools, a clean environment and quality health care for citizens, but only if we all work together.”
Dahlquist wrote increasing education funding and investing in quality teachers are top priorities for her Senate campaign.
“Student learning starts with a great teacher,” Dahlquist said. “But our teachers have not had a COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) in years. We need to make the investment if we want to retain quality teachers. Our kids are worth it.”