A candidate forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Kitsap, was held July 11 for state representative position 1 of Legislative District 23, a two-year term.
Incumbent Tarra Simmons (D) is running after being elected in 2020. She will be challenged in the primary by two Republicans, Janell Hulst and Ace Haynes. Hulst chose not to participate in the forum.
Hulst is a real estate broker, architectural drafter, general contractor and small-business owner of General Contracting & Architectural Design Co. She received her associate degree from Fresno City College.
“Crime is at record highs, inflation is skyrocketing, ferries aren’t running, homelessness is increasing, and no tax relief was passed even with a $15 billion surplus,” her voter’s pamphlet statement reads. “State spending has nearly doubled over the last ten years and our problems are worse. As a small-business owner, wife and mother, I’m committed to solutions that help working-class families and small businesses, like reducing taxes and cutting waste. I’ll support parental rights and educational choice, empower police to enforce laws, and promote transparency and government accountability. I’ll protect the most cherished freedoms of our constitutional republic: faith, family and private property.”
Below are some statements Simmons and Haynes gave during the forum:
Haynes: I was asked to run by friends, family and neighbors when they were unhappy with how things have gone, particularly in 2020. I believe we have a lot to do to get our community back to a safe, open and exciting place to live. We have a two-party system that is far too frictive. I believe that Tarra would be the first to tell you that she can’t get proper representation for us in Olympia because we’re not a swing district. I believe that you will feel safe electing me as a Republican and restoring our representation.
Simmons: I am your representative; it’s been the honor of my life. During my first two sessions, I think I was uniquely effective for a freshman. I did work across the aisle to get things done and was also able to make significant investments in our community from supporting small-business owners to domestic violence survivors to land conservation and forest conservation.
Simmons: One of the big reasons I ran was to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. What we see is early intervention with appropriate wrap-around services, guidelines and support. Not everyone has a healthy family of origin. Having an adult in your life that you can connect to and trust really does change the trajectory of children’s lives. We need more nurses, psychologists and counselors in our schools. We need to have more diversity within that program.
Haynes: Our schools have a huge problem with disproportionality so the funding that they do get goes toward bureaucrats and building, not teachers and direct assistance and product. I don’t understand why we send kids to school where they have a great big, beautiful building and no construction paper. My top focus would be teachers … and making sure they have the support so they don’t spend their paychecks on basic school supplies.
Simmons: I introduced the Keep Our Care Act, which has to do with the mergers and acquisitions of religious hospital systems that are limiting access to reproductive healthcare, gender-affirming care and end-of-life care … making sure that in the future if mergers happen that we have oversight by our Attorney General’s office. We need to support smaller providers that offer this care.
Haynes: I believe we have a state right to healthcare. The religious health initiatives have taken over many of our options for healthcare, and they’ve done so in an unregulated fashion. I don’t see why just because they’re church affiliated they get to operate outside of the system. They’re hospitals first and churches second. I want to force them, by law, to provide many of the services that they might find most objectionable, including rights to an honorable end of life as well as advancements of abortive services.
Simmons: We have passed a lot of great policies to address climate change. We have a lot to do before we’re not relying on fossil fuels. We do need to incentivize electric vehicles and have charging stations everywhere. We have to make sure we have accessible public transportation options. Here in Kitsap, there isn’t bus service on Sundays or at night.
Haynes: We are fortunate to have strong state protections. But we have a massive problem with the way the Growth Management Act has not protected sensitive lands and has restricted areas that have already faced development. It does put a lot of extra strain on the Department of Ecology to step up.
Simmons: I am fighting for racial justice and for helping people who have come from marginalized backgrounds to get out of poverty to have an opportunity for employment and housing.
Haynes: We are fairly aligned on many issues. I believe Kitsap is known for representing itself in an enlightened way, and they would like to see better representation from Olympia. I think they’re smart enough to know that one of the ways to do that is to become a swing district. We are known for electing Republicans in this county and this state. We are a purple state and a purple county. The problem is they haven’t been given very good options lately.