Republican Mike Steele of Chelan, the one-term incumbent holding position 2 in the state’s 12th Legislative District, is being challenged by Democrat Valerie Sarratt of Twisp. The News attempted to arrange personal interviews with the candidates but was unable to in time for this week’s edition. The following summaries are based on their previously stated positions on their websites, in the state Voters’ Pamphlet, and elsewhere.
Steele, 36, was elected to the Legislature in 2016. He had previously served two terms on the Chelan City Council. He graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with degrees in business administration and political science. He previously worked in the White House Office of Political Affairs.
Steele emphasizes work force issues such as affordable housing, career and technical information, small business growth and job creation. One aspect for that, he said, is increased funding for community colleges and technical training programs. Steele said he has pushed for legislation supporting innovative funding models for workforce housing, and will continue to if re-elected.
Steele also said he will push a statewide tourism initiative to support the tourism industry, a major revenue generator for the 12th District.
On his website, Steele said that “I will work with our health care systems, districts and providers to ensure they have the resources and support necessary to be successful.” And he said he will seek improvements for the district’s transportation systems, particularly related to freight mobility.
“As a member of the Education Committee Mike worked tirelessly to address and successfully appease the Mcleary court decision to require ample funding of education in our state. There is still more work to be done! I believe that all education funding should provide students with additional opportunists and develop clear and rigorous academic standards.
“Students and teachers in the 12th District should have the resources they need to succeed, but we need to make sure every penny we invest is making a difference and addressing the changing landscape of education. I believe we should continue to expand STEM programs and I admire the schools in our 12th District schools that are already focusing on this area of expansion.”
Sarratt, 53, has taught in public schools for 17 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the American University of Paris, and did post-graduate work at the University of Alaska and Central Washington University. Her community service includes being an executive board member of the Okanogan County Democrats.
Sarratt said the most challenging issue facing the district is providing affordable health care. She supports state-based universal health care. A single-payer system would boost the economy and save money now spent on emergency room treatment for uninsured people, she said.
She also cites affordable housing as a major issue in the district, and says that effective policies are available.
Sarratt said she supports strengthening public schools, fair immigration policies and assisting local economies. And she said that, if elected, she will make addressing the challenges of climate change a high priority. Improved broadband services, especially for rural areas, would be another priority, she said.
“City leadership, government leaders and nonprofits must be willing to work together and get creative in order to provide more-affordable housing options in our district. Policies and measures that have been proven to increase affordable housing options already exist: building up, not down; allowing inclusionary zoning, providing cost offsets to developers; etc. We just need the political will to make these solutions happen. Affordable housing should cost no more than 30 percent of an occupant’s income, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These days, however, local families struggle to pay for housing because wages have stagnated while home prices and rent continue to increase. I believe that having a safe, affordable home should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few.”