A House legislator with a progressive economic agenda and a conservative newcomer with a populist anti-tax stance are competing this year to take over the seat vacated by State Sen. Margarita Prentice
(D-Skyway) who is retiring from her seat in Legislative District 11 after 20 years in office. Before that, Prentice served two terms in the Washington House of Representatives.
House Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle), who currently represents the 11th District, is running to continue his agenda in the Senate. He seeks a progressive tax system and wants to reprise his role as a minority voice in Olympia.
Political newcomer Kristin Thompson said that for too long Olympia politics have ignored the will of the people, who have consistently rejected taxes by demanding a two-thirds majority on any increases.
Hasegawa has the bigger campaign fund. He comes to the race with $10 in contributions for every $1 Thompson has raised. But Thompson won an endorsement from the Seattle Times for her more moderate stance and speaks to an increasingly conservative District 11.
Thompson is a dental hygienist whose public service experience so far includes the Lindbergh High School pta and work as a volunteer for the Renton School District’s bond and levy efforts. She took over finances at her son’s high school football program and brought it out of $20,000 in debt, she said.
If elected, Thompson said she would not support expanding human services because of the tight economy but that the state must maintain a minimum level.
“We should take care of those who can’t take care of themselves,” she said.
In terms of finding the money to fund the court-ordered $1 billion of additional funding to schools and resolving an additional $1 billion deficit, Thompson was short on details.
She said any taxes would have to go through the voters. As to programs she would cut, Thompson would not go into specifics. She said there’s no way to know what a majority would support until she’s in Olympia.
“Until you get down there and you’re working with the entire legislature, I don’t think you can really come to a consensus,” she said.
Hasegawa is a lifelong Beacon Hill resident with eight years of experience as a representative for District 11.
In his bid for the Senate, Hasegawa presented himself as a continuation of Prentice’s policies as a progressive legislator and a person of color. As a Japanese American, Hasegawa was one of seven representatives of color in the House and would be one of three in the Senate.
“That percentage is dismally low,” he said, noting that District 11 has a majority of people of color.
He said the Senate needs his voice to speak for working families and disadvantaged communities.
His economic policies are markedly left of center in Olympia. Hasegawa continually advocates for policies that pull public funding out of Wall Street.
He favors a state bank that would allow the government to issue bonds and loans to schools and public utilities for construction projects. Currently, private investors hold bonds for public projects.
He also supports an income tax on high earners. He would support eliminating the Business and Occupation tax (B&O), but only if an income tax is created to replace the revenue.
With voters consistently rejecting taxes, Hasegawa is working on legislation that would require the government to issue reports on the tax burden distribution in the state. He’s confident the reports would show that low- and middle-income families shoulder a highter tax burden, and this data would support his efforts for a more progressive tax system.
“Then people can see exactly what’s happened to them over the years,” he said.