State Rep. Jan Angel maintained a comfortable lead over Sen. Nathan Schlicher in the race for the 26th Legislative District Senate seat following last week’s primary election.
The Aug. 6 results showed Angel, R-Port Orchard, with 54.7 percent of the vote, while Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, with 45.3 percent. Both candidates will advance to the general election in November.
Angel said she was pleased when she saw the results rolling in.
“I was really excited to see the returns,” she said. “It’s been very positive at the doors. The polls were good, so we were hopeful that our numbers would be good.”
Angel said she’s confident the lead will hold until November, and she hopes the gap will widen.
“In our past races, we have always done better in the general than primary,” Angel said. “We’re hopeful that will be the case.”
Angel said her lead stems from her involvement with the community and the relationships she has developed with residents.
“You build relationships working with citizens over the years,” she said. “I’m honored those folks checked the box next to my name. We’ve done a good job trying to take care of our citizens, and it’s reflected in the vote.”
Schlicher, who was appointed to the Senate seat that was vacated by U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer last winter, said he’s optimistic about his chances despite trailing in the primary.
“We were thrilled,” Schlicher said. “The reality is, people have forgotten that, seven months ago, my opponent won the district by 19 points. To close it down to 9.3 is a huge move in a month. It’s more than 50 percent of the distance. To move near 10 points in a month, we’re ecstatic.”
Schlicher said he’s confident his camp can close the gap by the time the general election rolls around.
“I definitely think we can close it,” he said. “We’ll continue to bring our positive message and present a clear contrast to negative smear campaign. People are looking for thoughtful leadership that works with both sides of aisle. They’re looking for (someone who will do) hard work, especially in Senate, where requirements are that much higher.”
Much of Angel’s campaign message is centered on strengthening schools, a feat Angel hopes to accomplish by localizing authority.
“I believe we have good schools,” Angel said. “I think there is so much that could be done to strengthen local relationships, and local control between our school boards, principals and parents. Every school has a different situation and unique needs. We need stronger local control.”
Angel also said the state government is too large and needs to better prioritize its spending.
“What’s government supposed to do?” Angel asked. “According to the Washington State Constitution, the only thing we are mandated to fund is education. Education is No. 1. No. 2 is we have to take care of our people, emergency management, law enforcement, health department — the most vulnerable. Then, after that, look to see what revenue is still remaining, and look at other priorities.”
Schlicher, an emergency room doctor, said too many people are using the emergency room as a last stop, as it is the only place they can access adequate care.
“One in six Americans don’t have access to health care,” Schlicher said. “It’s amazing we have a system that leaves one in six without basic care. We need to get to prevention, Medicaid expansion, and save long-run costs.”
The race for the Position 1 seat of the Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District Board was narrowed two as Kurt Grimmer and Judy Pagni advanced. Grimmer collected 46.5 percent of the vote, and Pagni received 35.5 percent.
Pagni, a mother who has a finance background, said she was excited when the primary results rolled in, noting she is still “in it to win it.” She is confident she can close the gap by November.
“At this point going forward, I plan on picking up my campaign and getting in touch with some of the moms,” she said. “I’m going to use the network we’ve made to get my name out. I’ll really be focusing on the moms in Gig Harbor. They all have their opinions about how things should be done, and can’t seem to get it done, so I’m trying to use that network.”
Efforts to reach Grimmer were unsuccessful by Monday afternoon.
The race for the open seat on the Peninsula School District’s board of directors also was narrowed to two. David Olson gathered 46.5 percent of the vote, and incumbent Rick Jones collected 38.2 percent.
Olson said he was pleased with the results but is cautiously optimistic.
“Obviously, I was happy,” he said. “It was nice to have that win in the primary. You can’t take anything for granted, though. I’ve spent the past few months meeting with parents, teachers, community leaders, different organizations and listening to their concerns. All of that led to my being endorsed by both political parties.
“It just demonstrates to the voters that I’m able to listen to their concerns and listen to all sides of an issue. If the voters elect me, I’ll certainly represent them in an open and transparent manner.”
Jones could not be reached for comment by Monday.