Washington State Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie, an outspoken critic of Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent death-penalty moratorium, ran unopposed in his last election after trouncing two different Democratic candidates in 2010 and 2008.
But he won’t go unopposed this November: Democratic challenger Essie Hicks of Issaquah announced today she will run for the Legislative District 5 seat Rodne has held since 2004. The district includes parts of Issaquah, Maple Valley, Renton and several rural areas.
Holding public office would be a new experience for Hicks if elected, but she says her political positions are more in-line with her independent-thinking area than Rodne’s are. Hicks, 39, supports the death-penalty moratorium, marriage equality and putting more funding into suburban transportation projects. She also says she supports legislation to improve women’s health.
“He’s not representing a lot of families here that depend on transportation improvements to get in and out of the city,” Hicks said. “I think he’s really missing the mark when he’s saying transportation shouldn’t be an utmost priority for the 5th District.”
“A lot of my Republican friends say he’s too extreme for us,” said Hicks. “I don’t think people here vote for you because there’s an R or a D next to your name; they vote for you because they know you and trust you to work for them.”
Hicks says she’s learned how to lead and organize around issues she cares about while starting a small business as a single mother, acting as a Maple Valley planning commissioner and working as a legislative director for Issaquah Valley Elementary’s PTA.
Hicks lives in Issaquah with her husband and five sons ranging from 20 to 3 in age. While fundraising and campaigning this winter and spring, she’ll also be finishing her last quarter of a master’s in public administration program at Seattle University.
Rodne said Tuesday that he looked forward to meeting Hicks and learning more about her — and then debating against her.
“I’m looking forward to a good civil debate about the future of the state of Washington,” Rodne said. “I certainly question how the state would improve with additional Democrats in the House. We had Democratic rule for about 30 years, and now the state is in a fiscal mess.”
In 2010, Rodne defeated Democrat Gregory Hoover by 22.06 percent and, in 2008, defeated Democrat Jon Viebrock by 19.42 percent.