A race that is getting a lot of attention in the upcoming Aug. 7 primary election is an open seat for the 48th Legislative District on the Eastside -- in the Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond areas.
Many say it’s a bellwether for how the state will vote later this fall.
There are two good and very interesting candidates, Republican Hank Myers, who has been elected twice to the Redmond City Council, and a political newcomer, Democrat Cyrus Habib.
One notable twist to this race is that Habib lost his sight to cancer at the age of eight and has gone on to do impressive things, including studying as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He’s taking his campaign door to door.
“If I can get around the New York subway system on my own, if I can go down and live in Guatemala and study Spanish on my own, I’m not worried about, you know, porch steps in Bridle Trails,” he said. “I actually enjoy going door-belling a lot.”
Habib is able to read and communicate with the help of computer software.
Myers acknowledges the challenges that Habib has successfully faced, but says that his own life story is noteworthy, as well.
“My background is also the great American success story in that I have come up,” he said. “I started from modest means and have made my own business and have created a record of public service.”
Myers says he is proud of his work as a Coast Guard air rescue crewman.
Both candidates are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and pro-charter schools. But they part ways when it comes to Tim Eyman’s anti-tax measures. Republican Myers supports a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature to raise taxes, but Habib doesn’t.
On education, both candidates say it would be their biggest priority, but they have a different take on how they would tackle the problem.
“We need to raise the priority back to where it was years ago when the Republicans were writing the budget,” said Myers, who believes that can be done without a new revenue source. Habib also declined to endorse new revenue, instead saying the savings could be found elsewhere.
“Our budgets haven’t shrunk, but where the money has gone it’s shifted over into health care costs,” said Habib. He says he would look to a program such as King County’s that has saved $60 million “prioritizing preventative and healthy lifestyle choices for county employees.”
Habib is a lawyer at Perkins Coie and serves as a trustee of the Bellevue College Foundation.
“I’ve got an educational background that some folks are used to seeing down in Olympia as a lawyer, and I’ve got a deep civic portfolio on the Eastside,” he said.
Myers has been elected twice to the Redmond City Council and has served on the board of the social service organization Together Center.
“Coming from a city council background I have to deal with people who disagree with me and I have to represent people who don’t always agree with me, and so I’m a pretty collegial guy,” he said
Myers and Habib are the only two candidates on the ballot for the Aug. 7 primary election.
The 48th Legislative District is an open seat because state Rep. Deb Eddy, D-Kirkland, said in March she would not be running for re-election this year. Eddy said that when she first ran for office, she promised to serve for six years and that she's fulfilled that commitment.