And now to Spokane’s Third Legislative District, where longtime Spokane state legislator Timm Ormsby faces a challenge from south Spokane neighborhood leader Dave Lucas.
Dave Lucas is a retired Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired as a lieutenant colonel. In 2013, he and his family moved to Spokane.
“In the Marine Corps, when you move somewhere, as soon as you pull in and the moving trucks start unloading, the neighbors just descend on you with welcoming, gifts, points of contact, suggestions. When I moved in the neighborhood, we didn’t really have that,” Lucas said.
And he missed it. So he and others in the Rockwood neighborhood created their own tradition for new neighbors.
“We put together a welcome bag and, what’s great about that is, it’s been so successful that some of the other neighborhoods are now taking than on as a neighborhood program,” he said.
Now Lucas spends much of his time doing community work. He’s the chairman of the Rockwood Neighborhood Council. Neighborhood leaders advocated for police officers to be hired this year. They also supported a bill in Olympia that would have allowed for supervision of people convicted of certain property crimes.
“Economically, it may not make sense to put them in jail," Lucas said. "How do you necessarily provide them the tools so they can get out of that cycle of crime? This supervision bill would have helped provide supervision officers who could work on that. Those that are willing to work could have somebody to guide and mentor them.”
The bill was sponsored by Third District Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane), Timm Ormsby’s seat mate. The Senate approved it and sent it to the House, where it died. Lucas says he and his neighbors were angered by that and wondered about Ormsby’s role in it. Lucas says he became concerned about Ormsby’s priorities after hearing him speak earlier this summer at a Third District town hall meeting.
“Really, the things he was talking about was that he worked on the budget and had these new tax proposals that he was advocating for," Lucas said. "And I’m like, this isn’t going to help Spokane. We had an opportunity to work on the property crime bill, you stopped it.”
For his part, Ormsby disputes Lucas’s assertion that he may have been responsible for shelving the crime supervision bill. He says he was its co-sponsor in the House.
“It was specifically focused on individuals that had been convicted of auto theft. The model is a good model," Ormsby said.
He says the bill would have created pilot programs to test supervision of offenders in Spokane and Federal Way. When it was introduced in the House, he says, legislators raised constitutional questions about it, particularly about limiting the benefits of the programs to the two cities.
So he couldn’t do a pilot project?
“The legal scholars will debate, that’s why we have courts," Ormsby said. "But in this case, this was the court of public opinion and this is the court of public policy. When those questions were raised about equal treatment across the board, the policy committee, the Public Safety Committee, said let’s make this policy universal. It happened at the 11th hour. There was no room in the budget to expand it. It wasn’t going to pass as a pilot project. It needed to be statewide.”
And so the bill died. Ormsby hopes it can be brought back and approved next year.
Ormsby has served 15 years in the state House and holds one of its most important positions, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which writes his chamber’s budget.
“My focus has been, for individuals, for quality of life purposes, for removing obstacles to success, that we provide a leg up in terms of the state programs and services, trying to remove those obstacles and create quality of life for our residents here in the Third and that can get translated into the state budget in a wide variety of ways,” Ormsby said.
In other words, he has the power to steer money to projects in his district. Considering the Third is perhaps the poorest district per capita in the state, Ormsby says that’s a valuable asset to have in Olympia.
Timm Ormsby has raised more than $91,000 dollars for his campaign, as of this week. Dave Lucas has raised more than $45,000. Ormsby won 64% of the vote in the August primary.