Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, is citing long list of “unfinished business” that includes police reform, public schools, affordable housing and behavioral health treatment as reasons he wants to get back to Olympia.
Goodman was first elected to represent the state’s 45th district in 2007.
His opponent, John Gibbons, did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.
Gibbons, a Kirkland Republican, said he has more than 35 years of experience in the restaurant industry and an education focused on chemistry and math, according to the state voter guide.
As protests continue nationwide in response to police killings of Black citizens – including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor – Goodman has begun to facilitate discussions about police and sentencing reform in Washington state. He is chairperson of the House’s Public Safety Committee, and he also sits on the Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee.
“It’s clear that there’s more work on the table that needs to be done,” he said.
The group is working to draft bills regarding banning use of choke holds and tear gas, establishing statewide standards for accountability and making it easier to decertify officers who engage in misconduct.
Goodman said that decisions about funding departments are made at a local level.
Because many of the policing issues are rooted in systemic racism, Goodman said, he’s been brokering the effort but mostly following the lead of Black members and members of color in the legislature.
“I’m helping them manage the process, but I’m not going to be the prime sponsor of bills,” he said, “because it just doesn’t feel right.”
Public safety isn’t only a matter of the police, he said. Goodman hopes to better fund behavioral health care, housing, and community services for disadvantaged communities.
“We need to kind of relieve the police of the burden we’ve put on them to solve all these problems,” he said. “You can’t solve homelessness with a badge and a gun,” he later added.
Gibbons wrote in response to a questionnaire distributed by Black Lives Matter Seattle King County that "there are plenty of laws on the books already" when it comes to protecting Black lives in Washington.
"We need to stress to the Black community to stop having children before being married, stop packing guns, and finish high school as a stepping stone to either getting a job in the trades or going onto higher learning," Gibbons wrote.
Goodman did not respond to the questionnaire.
The incumbent representatives said his Eastside constituents worry about the cost of housing in the area and about maintaining the high quality of schools.
In his tenure, he said, he’s proud of his bills aimed at lessening the pervasiveness of domestic violence and drunk driving.
Gibbons criticized the state’s response to this “extraordinary point in time" in his voter guide statement.
“Unfortunately government has not responded appropriately with reasoned restraint in respect to its emergency powers,” he wrote. “As such we need change.”
Goodman said it’s been very hard on children and small businesses especially, but saw the governor’s actions as necessary.