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Friday, October 15, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Education a key issue for those running for House in District 30

By Stuart Eskenazi
Seattle Times staff reporter

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In South King County, an incumbent Democrat and an incumbent Republican find themselves in competitive re-election races for the state House, each facing a stiff challenge from an eager and well-financed opponent.

District 30 covers Federal Way, Algona, Pacific and parts of Des Moines and Auburn. Once a GOP stronghold, a migration south from Seattle by families looking for affordable urban housing in King County has swung the district to the left. Even Rep. Skip Priest, the incumbent Republican in Position 2, who the Democrats are challenging with schoolteacher Joe Henry, describes the district as Democratic leaning.


Position 2

Skip Priest (incumbent)

Party: Republican

Age: 54

Education: Law degree, George Washington University; bachelor's degree, Willamette University

Family: Married, two children

Work/political experience: Owns land-management and business-consulting firm. State representative since 2003, former Federal Way mayor and council member

Residence: Federal Way

Campaign Web site:

Joe Henry

Party: Democrat

Age: 60

Education: Master's degree, Seattle Pacific University; bachelor's degree, Western Washington University

Family: Married, four children

Work/political experience: Health and fitness teacher, Highline School District; Federal Way School Board member, 1983-84

Residence: Federal Way

Campaign Web site:

Jonathan Wright

Party: Libertarian

Age: 59

Education: Medical degree, University of Michigan; bachelor's degree, Harvard University

Family: Married, five children

Work/political experience: Medical director, Tahoma Clinic in Renton

Residence: Auburn

The Position 1 race, pitting three-term Rep. Mark Miloscia against businessman Tony Moore, is no gimme for the Democratic incumbent, however. Republican Moore proved his political chops two years ago, garnering 46 percent of the vote in a race to unseat Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way. Moore has nearly matched Miloscia in campaign fund-raising; according to figures from the Public Disclosure Commission, Miloscia has raised $50,500 and Moore, $48,300.

Miloscia's primary legislative focus the past six years has been to make government more accountable by instituting regular performance audits of state agencies. Moore believes a legislator ought to concentrate on creating jobs, improving public education and making health care more affordable and accessible.

Moore responds to the district's Democratic lean by pointing out he's the only Republican legislative candidate endorsed by the Washington Education Association, the state's largest public-employee union.

"I can work with them," he said. "We both have a passion for the fix."

Moore has two children who attend schools in Federal Way, and he is vice president of Citizens for Federal Way Schools, which helped get two recent district levies passed. Moore runs a tire wholesaling company and said workers' compensation and tort reforms are needed to make Washington more attractive for entrepreneurs.

He considers himself a pragmatist and criticizes Miloscia as apathetic toward the issues that matter most.

"He talks about strengthening government instead of strengthening the people," Moore said. "Isolating yourself on one pet project doesn't do the district any good."

Miloscia's pet project would set up regular independent performance reviews of all government agencies. His proposed "audit and scorecard" system would put government agencies under the same pressure to satisfactorily perform that schools face under the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) test, he said.

"No agency head wants to get an F or a D, and that motivates change," said Miloscia, whose bill passed the House last year but died in the Senate.

Miloscia said in order to prop up the human-services, education and criminal-justice budgets, government in all areas must run efficiently so money can be saved.

"My plan of quality management and holding agencies accountable is very timely," he said. "Requiring government to save money during a time of deficit is a good thing."

Miloscia, who works as a substitute teacher, is one of the few Democrats with support of both the State Labor Council and the Association of Washington Business.


Position 1

Mark Miloscia (incumbent)

Party: Democrat

Age: 46

Education: Master's degree, Chapman University; master's degree, University of North Dakota; bachelor's degree, U.S. Air Force Academy

Family: Married, three children

Work/political experience: Substitute teacher in Federal Way School District, former administrator and Air Force pilot. State representative since 1999

Residence: Federal Way

Campaign Web site:

Tony Moore

Party: Republican

Age: 40

Education: Bachelor's degree, Liberty University

Family: Married, two children

Work /political experience: President of William A. Moore Jr. Inc., a tire wholesale business. Ran unsuccessfully for state Senate, 2002

Residence: Federal Way

C ampaign Web site:

Robert Brengman

Party: Libertarian

Age: 59

Education: GED from the U.S. Navy

Family: Married, four children

Work/political experience: Retired truck driver; first run for public office

Residence: Federal Way

The Position 2 race pits incumbent Priest, a former Federal Way mayor and council member, against Henry, who if elected would be the only full-time active schoolteacher in the Legislature.

Priest is urging voters to examine his record in hopes of overcoming the district's Democratic leanings. His experience includes 20 years of environmental advocacy for the Hylebos Watershed.

Despite having the highest name recognition of any of the four candidates running for the two House positions, Priest won election to the open seat two years ago by less than 650 votes.

"My background and my personality has been to take a bipartisan approach to problem solving," he said. "All I can do is take my understanding of the community, reach out to important constituencies and use my best judgment. In the end, I hope the people realize that I am working on their behalf."

Priest, a member of the House Higher Education Committee, worked with a Democratic colleague to require colleges and universities to set specific goals related to performance and accessibility. He also sat on the task force that drew up a tax-incentive plan so that Boeing would assemble the 7E7 jet in Washington.

Henry said when Priest was faced with tough budget decisions in Olympia, "he balanced the budget on the back of education, and I would never have done that — never — because I feel education is the No. 1 priority."

Henry, a health-and-fitness teacher at Chinook Middle School in SeaTac for 15 years, is currently on leave. He is showing fitness as a campaigner, attesting to have knocked on more than 17,000 doors since January. His fund-raising lags behind that of Priest, who has raised $65,800, but with $55,500, Henry has raised more than either Miloscia or Moore.

"It's time for a teacher in the state Legislature," Henry said. "There are some retired teachers and subs, but no one who can bring in real-world, rank-and-file classroom experience."

Henry said he decided to run after the Legislature failed to fund voter-approved initiatives to limit class size and increase teacher salaries. He wants to replace the WASL test and he opposes charter schools.

"My main message is about the kids," he said.

Two Libertarians also are on the ballot: Robert Brengman for Position 1 and Jonathan Wright for Position 2. Neither had reported raising or spending any campaign money as of yesterday.

Stuart Eskenazi: 206-464-2293 or

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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