Write-in candidate gives voters a choice in 31st

With less than a month remaining before voters head to the polls, a new candidate has emerged in the race for the 31st district state Senate seat.

Brian L. Gunn, a software tester from Auburn, this week officially filed to run as a write-in candidate for the seat presently held by incumbent Pam Roach.

Voters in August selected Roach and Sumner City Councilman Matt Richardson, both Republicans, as the two candidates for the Nov. 2 general election.

Gunn, a Democrat, said he filed to be a write-in candidate to give voters another choice.

“Mostly I think what we need is to have another choice; give voters the opportunity to actually represent what they believe in,” Gunn said Friday during a phone interview.

Gunn believes neither of the two candidates remaining on the ballot represent the district.

Gunn cited the Republican Senate Caucus’s censure of Roach in January and wondered about her ability to serve as a legislator.

“I’m trying to figure out how she can be effective,” he said.

However, he also said he has seen “all kinds of stories” about Richardson’s past and said there was “clearly some bad behavior,” though he admitted he does not know how much of the rumors to believe.

“I just think our choices are poor,” he said.

Gunn, 48, is a newcomer to elected politics, though he has been involved for several years with the 31st District Democrats, including having been elected as a precinct officer.

Asked about the issues facing the district this election season, Gunn repeatedly returned to the state’s tax structure, which he called “very regressive” because of its heavy reliance on sales taxes, which disproportionally affect the poor and take a larger percentage of their overall income.

“The people who have the least end up paying more,” he said.

Gunn said because of that, he is a supporter of Initiative 1098, which would place a tax on any income greater than $200,000 for individuals or $400,000 for couples.

Gunn said he believes those making more should pay a little more.

“It’s not going to fix the problems entirely, but it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

Gunn also said because of his belief that the state’s sales taxes are too regressive, he thought the tax package passed last year increasing taxes on soda, bottled water, candy and other items continued to harm those with the least.

“I really don’t think it was a good choice,” he said, adding that he understands the opposition to an income tax, but thinks it is a better solution.

He went on to say he would distinguish himself from the Democratic caucus by standing up in support of an income tax on the wealthiest in the state. Though he also said that he agrees with “98 percent” of the Democratic party platform.

Gunn said his focus would also be on fully funding education, adding that he saw the “downstream results” of budget cuts this year when his daughter’s degree program was cut last year at Washington State University.

He also said he would focus on not taking away healthcare from the less fortunate who count on the state.

“Those choices end up really hurting a lot of people I think are the ones that need it most,” he said.

Gunn said he has been a software tester his entire life, which he said has given him the notion that quality and excellence in their work is important, making sure to do the legwork and research to make sure a product – in this case legislation – does what it is supposed to do.

Gunn said he was motivated to run because he felt the options on the ballot do not give the district enough options.

“We need to have a voice for people who think differently from the folks on the ballot at this point,” he said.

According to Libby Nieland, program specialist in charge of candidate filing for the Secretary of State’s office, Gunn has not yet filed an official Declaration of Write-in Candidacy, which means that voters wishing to vote for him must spell his name exactly “Brian L. Gunn” in order for votes to be counted for him.

A form is not required.

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