by AMANDA WINTERS
Other than sharing a first name and zip code, the two candidates running for state representative for the 24th Legislative District are quite different.
Steve Tharinger, the Democrat incumbent, faces political newcomer Steve Gale, a Republican, in the race to serve in the Washington State House of Representatives.
Tharinger was elected to the state house in 2010, replacing retiring Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam. He is seeking another two-year term.
A ‘concerned citizen’
Gale, an operations manager for industrial gas company Praxair Inc., moved to Sequim from Bothell with his wife and three daughters in January. He said he’s wanted to move to the area since the 1990’s but the timing wasn’t right until now.
His interest in running for office comes from his concern about the state budget and what he views as government infringing on people’s rights.
“It seems government has been on an agenda to over-regulate and usurp rights from people,” he said, using the state Department of Ecology’s proposed water rule as an example.
A self-described “concerned citizen,” he disagrees with what he believes are restrictions upon peaceful enjoyment and development of property.
“I think we need to focus our efforts on where there is value added to government and not just create more bureaucracy and higher overhead,” he said.
Since he’s new to the area and not active in any local groups, Gale said he would work to get to know people and strive to support economic development within the district, specifically in the areas of manufacturing and tourism.
Gale said after working for many years in a heavily regulated industry he is familiar with government code and the process of interpreting and applying it.
Seeking round two
Tharinger, who served as a Clallam County commissioner for three terms, said when he campaigned for state office in 2010 he talked a lot about improving the state’s capital budget and investing in state infrastructure.
Securing funding for a proposed wastewater treatment system in Carlsborg and other water projects in Clallam County was a big win, he said.
During the last year, he helped secure funding for a library in Port Townsend and a fish hatchery improvement project, he said.
“Those investments will help create jobs now and help our fish populations and tourism in the future,” he said.
As vice chair of the local government committee, he helped eliminate some redundant processes within government, he said.
When $27 million was needed for critical access hospitals, including in Forks and Jefferson County, he and fellow legislators were able to come up with full funding, he said.
If re-elected, Tharinger said he wants to continue focusing on timber, fishing and water quality issues but also work to move to a stronger, outcome-based healthcare system and re-examine the state’s revenue structure.
“It’s not new taxes or increased taxes but a more fair tax structure,” he said.
No candidate forums or debates have been announced yet.
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.