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Maxwell campaigns for second term in 41st district
Deciding on where to meet state representative Marcie Maxwell for coffee is a cinch — she practically has the address of every coffee shop in the five-city 41st Legislative District memorized. But meeting her in the new Panera Bread coffee shop in Factoria could be the place that suits her best. No one, it seems, is alone. There are large tables full of people talking. In the center is a large table with an animated group that obviously meets regularly to discuss the issues of the day. She smiles as she passes. It is apparent that Maxwell feels at home at the table.
Maxwell of Renton is running against Mercer Island physician Peter Dunbar for a second term as State Representative Pos. 1 for the 41st District. She was first elected to office in 2008 on a platform of fixing school funding, when she edged Islander Steve Litzow by less than 800 votes for the job.
Collaboration and leadership are two words that come up often in her conversations. She took that approach with her to Olympia in 2009. She helped organize her fellow freshmen representatives and met with key players in the Legislature, crossing over into the Senate to ensure that they knew who they were and what they wanted.
Her focus has been education, but she was active in other areas as reflected by her committee assignments, which include:
House Committee on Community, Economic Development and Trade
House Committee on Capital Budget
House Committee on Education
Maxwell does not hesitate when asked what the differences are between herself and her opponent. First, she says that she has strong community ties and leadership experience both directly in her community and now within the state Legislature. Next, she points to her years as a School Board member for Renton schools as an important role for her. This gives her hands-on experience for dealing with the state’s most important priority, she said.
Maxwell is a member of the ad hoc “Blue Ribbon Panel,” an informal group of business, school and government leaders from Renton. The group gets together regularly to “support each other and solve problems that hold back businesses,” she said. An ongoing topic for the group is how to continually “market” their community and or solve matters that make it difficult for those who want to do business in their community.
Maxwell says that her own business reflects her local emphasis. She says her motto is: “I don’t just sell houses, I sell communities.”
Within her personal life, Maxwell has had a difficult year. Her mother, Lucy Halela, an Island resident, died just a couple of weeks ago, living just long enough to attend Maxwell’s daughter’s wedding on Aug. 28. Maxwell sold her home this summer and moved. Maxwell’s husband, Steve Maxwell, died last February during the Legislative session. A 30-year veteran of the King County Sheriff’s department, Steve Maxwell was 57. A non-smoker, he had been diagnosed with lung cancer less than six months earlier.
Maxwell said that her husband encouraged and supported her throughout her business and political career. Despite his illness and death, Maxwell missed just a handful of votes during the 2010 session.
Her experience as a legislator was fruitful, she said. “We brought important issues to the fore. Basic Education reform was not a priority in the 2009 session,” she said. “The group that came in as democratic freshman has stood together, getting a lot done.” Reflecting her long interest and work in education, Maxwell promised voters that she would push for the reform of education funding. She did, being part of a team of legislators who pushed through ESHB 2261 (state education system reform) as well as SHB 2776 (regarding K-12 education funding).
School districts in Washington state face challenging ways to pay for what is often referred to as “unfunded mandates.” One of the most onerous is paying for special education services. Maxwell said that one way to reduce costs for special needs students is to fund and “do a better job with early education.”
“Preparing students for elementary school better and identifying learning challenges early will help reduce special education costs,” she said.
Having trained teachers is also a priority. Maxwell said that more trained teachers are needed. “Colleges are not graduating nearly enough teachers for the subject areas where students need them,” she said. She noted that a recent crop of UW education graduates class only produced a dozen math teachers.
She said she has accomplished a good deal in her two years. But she is quick to add, “I am not done yet.”
To read about Maxwell’s opponent Peter Dunbar, see the July 21 issue of the Reporter or read it online at www.mi-reporter.com.
All candidates running locally will be on hand during the Oct. 14 Voters Forum. See page 1 and page 2 for more information.