Mercer Island Reporter


Candidates for Senate still looking for votes

Mercer Island Reporter Staff
October 23, 2012 · Updated 1:17 PM

Candidates for the 41st and 48th Districts participate in a candidate forum in Bellevue in early October. From left to right, 48th Dist., Pos. 1: Rep. Ross Hunter and Bill Hirt; 48th Dist., Pos. 2: Cyrus Habib and Hank Myers; 41st Dist., Pos. 2: Judy Clibborn; 41st Dist., Pos. 1: Rep. Marcie Maxwell and Tim Eaves; and 41st Dist., Senate: Maureen Judge and Sen. Steve Litzow. Craig Groshart (at podium), editor of the Bellevue Reporter, moderated the forum, sponsored by the Bellevue Downtown Association. / Patrick Bannon/Bellevue Downtown Association

As just days remain until the Nov. 6 general election, Islander and state Senator Steve Litzow, a Republican, and his opponent, fellow Islander, Democrat Maureen Judge, will continue to campaign and raise funds until the very end.

Despite dozens of endorsements, hundreds of supporters and thousands of dollars on each side, neither candidate is taking anything for granted.

The two met in the August primary, when Litzow took 56 percent of the vote to Judge’s 44. Just 31,000 voted. Statewide, just under 40 percent cast their ballots in the primary.

Judge says that Litzow, in his first term, did not do enough to support education, and he appears to put his party affiliation above the needs of constituents.

Judge told the Reporter then that she became interested in running for the Legislature after a turn shepherding a bill through Olympia to safeguard infants from toxic substances.

Judge is the former executive director of the Washington Toxics Coalition. WTC works to keep toxic chemicals out of homes, schools and workplaces.

Her most important accomplishment during her time there was the passage of a law to ensure that baby bottles, children’s food and beverage containers, and sports bottles are now free of the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA). She spent a good deal of time and effort, she said, personally working in Olympia and with members of the Legislature to ban these products.

Her experience there led her to want to do more in Olympia and to do so in a nonpartisan way.

She told the Reporter then that she herself represents so many in the 41st Legislative District and across the country. She is a woman and a single parent making her way in tough economic times.

“I am the 41st District,”  she said.

As she has worked her way through the campaign into the summer and the fall, she has found that voters are concerned about funding for education, the preservation of reproductive health services for women and jobs.

Her website lists 30 politicians and leaders who have endorsed her candidacy, including 37 public or nonprofit organizations that include public safety personnel, labor organizations, the Washington state chapter of the National Organization for Women and reproductive rights groups. Judge also earned the endorsement of the local SEUI Healthcare union, representing more than 22,000 doctors, registered nurses and other health-care professionals statewide. She also earned the endorsement of SEIU 925, representing more than 23,000 child care providers in Washington.

Judge is particularly proud of her endorsements from firefighters across the Eastside, including the Mercer Island firefighters.

“I understand issues around health for safety personnel,” she said, referring to her time on the toxics coalition. “Firefighters in particular face exposure to toxicity from fighting fires.”

She has been sad to see teachers vilified in discussions about education funding. “It is easy to point at one group, such as teachers, to take the blame for an issue. We need to change the conversation.”

“Firefighters, nurses and teachers, need our support,” she said. “We need to protect the people who protect us.”

Professionally, Judge is an independent marketing consultant. In the past, she was a manager for Real Networks in Seattle and later moved over to Expedia.com in Bellevue. She is a graduate of Boston University with a degree in political science and English. She grew up in the Seattle area. Judge is a member of the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce and has been on the board for the Youth and Family Services Foundation. She moved to the Island in 2006 and lives on the North end with her daughter, who attends Mercer Island High School.

In addition to her volunteer work as board president of the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Foundation, Judge was a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit serving seriously ill children and their families. She has also served on the King County Conservation Voters Board and four years on NARAL Pro-Choice Washington’s PAC board.

Judge’s reports to the Wshington State Public Disclosure Commission show that she had about $75,000 in the bank on Sept. 1.

As for her opponent, Judge says that he promised bipartisanship but did not deliver. “Litzow made the last vote at the end of the regular [Legislative] session against the [bipartisan] budget that sent the state into special sessions that cost taxpayers $450,000. That is money that could have gone to schools,” she said.

Incumbent state Senator Steve Litzow, Judge’s opponent, reports that he has lost seven pounds this campaign season. He has kept track of how many doorbells he has rung. As of Friday, Oct. 5, he reported that he has been to 7,845 homes. In his last campaign, he lost 13 pounds.

Litzow, a Republican, is a management consultant and a former two-term Mercer Island City Councilmember.

He won the state Senate seat in 2010, defeating Randy Gordon, an attorney from Bellevue who had been appointed to fulfill the term left open by Islander Fred Jarrett, who left shortly after being elected to join the staff of the King County Council.

Litzow and his wife, Jenny, have lived on Mercer Island for more than 15 years. They have four children.

Litzow’s work in the Senate to date has earned him the Warren G. Magnuson Award for Bipartisan Leadership from the Municipal League of King County as well as the National Federation of Independent Business ‘Guardian of Small Business Award’ for supporting a more business-friendly environment in the state Legislature. He has endorsements from education and children’s advocates.

The senator worked as a marketing executive with Procter & Gamble. He is currently a partner with EMM Group, a global marketing management company, and served in senior management roles with a number of local companies.

Litzow is a member of the board of the Bellevue College Foundation, Summer Search, a nonprofit mentoring program for at-risk youth, Thrive by Five, Puget Sound Ecosystem Coordinating Board and The Nature Conservancy.

According to state PDC reports, Litzow had $350,000 in the bank as of Sept. 1.

He says that as he has talked to voters across the district this spring and summer, he hears three things. First, concerns about the economy and when and how it will turn around; issues regarding education standards and funding adequacy; and, finally, health care.

He added that he is somewhat surprised he had not heard much during this campaign about transportation and environmental concerns.

“People are too focused on those [first three] topics to even get to social issues such as gay marriage,” he said.

Litzow said he has been busy focused on early education and K-12 initiatives and education financing. He is also on the Financial Institutions Housing & Insurance Committee and the Transportation Committee.

He was the sole sponsor of seven bills in the most recent Legislative session and was a secondary sponsor of 150 more bills, both significant and symbolic.

They include SB 5213, on insurance statutes, which was passed and signed by the governor, and SB 5784, on Regional Ocean Partnerships, also signed by the governor — and others that range from modifying unemployment insurance, due to high unemployment in the state, to preserving a school district levy base.

Regarding health care and the issues being discussed in the presidential campaigns, Litzow says that he sees some of the concern over how Obamacare, or any alternative to it, would work.

“I think we have got to figure out how it [Obamacare] will work, not just now, but in 10 years. The mechanics are important. The delivery and access have to be worked out. How do we make it workable and fair?

“The good news is that more people will be covered. A piece of bad news is that we don’t have enough doctors to treat them all,” he said.


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