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Schmidt, Christian to be new faces representing Spokane Valley in Olympia

Schmidt.Christian montage
Courtesy of House Republican Organizing Committee and screenshot from Christian campaign ad
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Republicans Suzanne Schmidt and Leonard Christian appear to be headed to Olympia as representatives of the Fourth Legislative District.

Suzanne Schmidt and Leonard Christian see themselves as more pragmatic, less ideological than past 4th District representatives.

Washington’s recent election won’t become official until November 28, but the results in most races have already been determined.

What we know is that one, and likely two, new people will represent Spokane Valley in Olympia next year, Suzanne Schmidt and Leonard Christian.

Schmidt’s place in the state House is secure. The Republican who directs Associated Building Contractors in Spokane won 63% of the vote for the seat now occupied by Rep. Bob McCaslin.

Her transition has begun. This week she expected to hear about which legislative committees to which she’ll be assigned.

“I have requested to be on the Transportation Committee, the Labor and Workplace Standards and Environment and Energy," she said.

Those correspond to the issues with which she’s most professionally engaged.

“Workers’ comp, safety, employment, overtime issues, prevailing wage. Also, I have experience with transportation as far as working with construction companies, road and bridge construction companies," she said.

Schmidt’s seat mate will likely be Christian, who is winning a tight race against current Representative Rob Chase.

“It’s very exciting and refreshing for both Leonard and I to go in at the same time because we are both pragmatic. We understand that we have to work across the aisle and that we have to compromise on some things and if we go in there voting no on everything or sponsoring legislation that’s not even going to get a hearing, we’re really doing a disservice to the Fourth District,"

Schmidt will soon head to Olympia for her orientation as a new state legislator. She’ll begin her first session in early January.

In Christian's case, even though the election is not yet certified, he says the transition to serving in the legislature has begun.

In 2014, he served one session as a replacement for Larry Crouse, who resigned in the middle of his term.

“We literally found out on a Thursday and I started on Monday, so we had no preparation and I seem to remember the hardest part of it all was trying to figure out where the bathroom was and when I was allowed to use it."

But he got all that worked out and finished the session. Now, he says he’s ready to go to work in his first full two-year term.

“We have some transportation projects coming up, some grade separation projects coming up that need to be addressed. This police pursuit bill is like number one. We have got to get a handle on allowing our police…I put it to you this way, remove the handcuffs off our police officers and let them do their job," he said.

Christian is retired from the Air Force after a 21-year stint. He’s now a real estate broker and says he will adjust that career to fit his legislative service.

“Honestly, I’ve been so involved in the pulse of what’s going on in the Fourth District and reading the news and staying up on events and going to events, being a member of the chamber. There’s a lot of issues that I just don’t have to start over again or try to get research on because I’ve been living those issues for years," he said.

The 2023 Washington legislative session will begin January 9.