Candidates for the 5th Legislative District fielded questions on the economy, the pandemic and businesses on Sept. 14.
The forum was hosted by the Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, and featured incumbent Bill Ramos (D) and challenger Ken Moninski (R), who are vying for the district’s 1st seat.
Ramos won his seat in 2018, after being swept in on a blue wave in the district long represented by Republicans in the state House. Moninski is hoping to swing the seat back.
“I think we’re in danger of slipping to such an overwhelming Democrat majority in Olympia that a lot of voices are going to be drowned out,” Moninski said.
Ramos touted his experience in the Legislature, as well as on the Issaquah City Council as proof of his qualifications. Moninski pointed to his business experience, running two aviation industry businesses.
The pair were asked what their top priorities would be if elected. Moninski said he would focus on the budget deficit facing the state from the coronavirus pandemic. He said cutbacks would likely be needed, citing potential reductions in state employees or cuts to higher education.
“That’s probably going to be job number one,” Moninski said. “And in concert with that, figuring out how we promote policies to get the economy back going.”
Other policies included business and operations tax breaks for businesses, or sales tax holidays.
Ramos said he would be focused on keeping people healthy during the pandemic, which he said is necessary to address the economic impacts. He pointed to Legislative action last spring that provided $225 million to coronavirus relief for Washington state businesses, though he said the pandemic has grown larger than they anticipated.
Addressing climate change will also be a key part of his policies.
“We have an environmental crisis we have to work on as well,” Ramos said.
Both candidates agreed that small businesses need more support through the pandemic.
Moninski also said he supports finding ways to get students back in school, in-person.
In the Aug. 4 primary, Ramos won 59 percent of the voter, with Moninski coming in second at nearly 35 percent. It puts Ramos well ahead to win the November general.
Also hurting Moninski is a lack of donors. According to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, Moninski has only raised some $6,330, compared to Ramos, whose campaign has netted more than $128,000.
And despite early optimism that Republican donors and the party would rally behind their only candidate in the race, there’s been no major donations to Moninski’s campaign.
The apparent retreat from the district makes it increasingly likely that voters in the district will again send Democrats to fill its one Senate and two House seats in Olympia.
In the Senate race, incumbent Mark Mullett is waging an intraparty campaign against fellow Democrat Ingrid Anderson. Gov. Jay Inslee endorsed Anderson, a progressive challenger to Mullett, who describes himself as a moderate.
And Lisa Callan is running essentially unopposed for her 2nd House seat in the district.