OLYMPIA — Earlier on Election Day, Sherry Appleton said that no matter what happened in the race for 23rd District state representative, Position 1, she’s appreciated the support she's received during her four terms in office. "I've been very lucky," she said Tuesday before the final ballots were counted. "I've had a very loyal constituency. It's always been my pleasure to represent them."
She will have the opportunity to continue representing those she's felt so lucky to serve since 2004.
Appleton, a Democrat, was reelected to the state House of Representatives Tuesday. As of 8:10 p.m., Appleton had 25,383 votes to Republican Tony Stephens' 16,630. The Kitsap County Auditor Elections Office estimates there are 40,000 ballots left to count. The vote tally will be updated Wednesday by 5 p.m.
Members of the state House of Representatives are elected to two-year terms, are paid $42,106 a year and receive the same benefits as state employees.
Appleton is a long-time Poulsbo resident. She served on the Poulsbo City Council for eight years and worked as a lobbyist/advocate for 11 years. Though Appleton did say that, legislatively, she has "a lot of little irons in the fire," she could not say exactly what type of legislation to expect from her this term; she needed to get through Election Day first, she said.
Appleton did offer one legislation she would like to introduce: A residency bill that would make any military personnel returning from overseas an immediate resident of the state. That way, she said, they could immediately qualify for in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities.
The budget, K-12 and higher education, and health care are all topics of major concern to Kitsap County residents, she said. The court decision in McCleary vs. State of Washington, which says all basic education has to be fully funded by 2018, will be an important topic during Appleton's next term.
Happy with the "breathing room" the state gave in the timeline to fund education more in Washington, Appleton does not see a possible way to balance a budget and provide more education funding without raising taxes. She also wants to close tax loopholes.
Regarding higher education, Appleton wants to see more students in college, especially in the science, math and technical fields. Otherwise, "We're going to fall behind," she said. Appleton said she also wants to ensure access to affordable health care.
Appleton hoped the charter schools initiative, 1240, fails. She said the McCleary decision said to fix the education system Washington already has, not make another. If another system is put in place, it will take funding away from school districts already facing budget cuts, she said.
During her legislative career, Appleton has served as vice chairwoman, State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee; vice chairwoman, Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee; member, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee; and chairwoman, Working Families Caucus. She served on the state Sentencing Guidelines Commission and the State Council on Aging.
She attended the Western Legislative Academy and the Henry Toll Fellowship Program.
Stephens, also of Poulsbo, is a technician with Northrop Grumman and retired Army NCO. He said his primary goal as a representative was upholding the public’s will on legislation.
Voters are opposed to a state income tax, he said in a Q&A with the Herald; the 23rd District’s senator and representatives support establishing an income tax.
"I am more qualified to represent the people of the 23rd LD because I agree with the people of the 23rd Legislative District," he wrote.
During the campaign, Stephens said he wants to get government out of the way of new and small businesses, thereby spurring economic growth and creating jobs. He wants the Legislature to fund education first, separately. He also wants to remove every vestige of UN Agenda 21 — Sustainable Development from the state of Washington. Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regards to sustainable development. The Republican Party platform rejects Agenda 21 as “erosive of American sovereignty.”