Balance of power in Olympia at stake with 45th District race

Nov 2, 2017, 8:49 AM | Updated: 9:09 am
45th District, Manka Dhingra, Jinyoung...
Left, Democrat Manka Dhingra. Right, Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund. (via Canva)
(via Canva)

The 45th Legislative District race is among the most closely watched in the state and the most expensive in state history.

Election 2017: Expected low turnout favors conservatives

What’s at stake? The balance of power in Olympia. The Republicans currently control the Senate by a single seat and Democrats control the House.

If Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund wins, the GOP will maintain control of the Senate. If Democrat Manka Dhingra wins, Democrats will have control in both chambers as well as the Governor’s office.

Listen to Manka Dhingra’s full interview
Listen to Jinyoung Lee Englund’s full interview

The two first-time candidates are running to fill the seat left vacant after Republican Senator Andy Hill died last year, finishing out the final year of Hill’s four-year term. The winner will represent the 45th District, which includes Sammamish, Woodinville, Duvall, Redmond, and Kirkland.

Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund says don’t be fooled by her party affiliation. She did not vote for President Trump.

“I’m reflective of my district,” Englund said, “in that we’re very independent, we’re more willing to look at the issues at play and more willing to look at the person.”

Democrat Manka Dhingra also seems not to fit the mold of her party. State Republicans have said if she wins and Democrats take control of the Senate and the Legislature, it will be the equivalent of giving the governor a blank check. That, Republicans say, will lead to more taxes. Not so, says Dhingra. She says she does not support a state income tax and that there is “no way” it will ever happen.

Englund is also against a state income tax. Washington state is one of seven without a state income tax. Englund says, “it makes us competitive, right? It expands, it creates opportunities for people.”

On transportation, Englund says people in her district need better routing options on buses, but that buses need to come more frequently. She suggests using new technology, such as apps that allow people to rent out their driveways to commuters to deal with the shortage of parking.

Englund wants change in the I-405 express toll lanes. People feel like they were tricked when they approved the largest gas tax increase in state history to pay for an extra lane only to have a toll slapped on it, she says. The experiment on the toll lanes has come to an end, she says.

“We already know it didn’t meet the two thresholds to keep it open, why not — for the rest of this year — make that 405 toll lane open to the public and collect data on whether or not that is actually reducing congestion?”

Dhingra says toll roads need to stay the way they are and be part of the comprehensive plan to keep people moving on roads and freeways, especially on the Eastside.

Both support some type of car-tab relief for taxpayers footing the bill for ST3. Dhingra says the $54 billion light rail expansion is necessary. However, she does support changing the vehicle valuation system used to calculate car-tab fees, which has led to sticker shock with some people getting car tab bills double or triple what they used to pay.

Englund would go even further. The problem with the Sound Transit measure, she says, is people again feel deceived. If she’s elected, she hopes to pass bi-partisan legislation that not only changes the vehicle valuation system but gets people immediate relief, including reducing the 0.8 percent tax increase that came with ST3.

Englund wants to see Sound Transit’s Board elected, rather than appointed.

Englund says people in her district feel betrayed on many issues, including a judge’s ruling that blocked voters from weighing in on I-27, an initiative that would ban safe injection sites in King County. King County leadership wants to open two sites, one in Seattle, and one elsewhere in the county. Several cities have banned them, but unincorporated areas in the 45th District are concerned because they don’t have a city council to vote to ban the sites.

Dhingra, a King County Prosecutor, supports the sites but takes issue with them being referred to as safe injection sites. It’s a name she says that has been highly politicized. The correct term, Dhingra says, is Community Health Engagement Locations. Either way, she insists people in her district don’t need to worry about them coming to their neighborhood.

“There are no Community Health Engagement Locations coming to the Eastside, that’s not going to happen.”

But Dhingra says she supports the judge blocking I-27 from going to the ballot because the opioid crisis is a public health issue that should be left to public health officials.

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Balance of power in Olympia at stake with 45th District race