Election Q&A with Skylar Roode, State House of Representatives Seat 16th District Pos. 2 Incumbent | Election

State Rep. Skyler Roode, R. Walla Walla, will face Democratic challenger Jean Cohn in the upcoming November 8 general election to decide who will represent Olympia’s 16th Legislative District for the next two years. Decide.

Legislative District 16 includes Walla Walla County, nearly half of Benton County, and part of Franklin County. These boundaries were recently changed in statewide rezoning efforts following the 2020 Census. Each legislative branch is run by two state legislators and her one state senator. Rude and Cohn are battling for State Representative status 2.

Candidates chosen by voters to represent Olympia’s constituencies will face countless issues, including state taxes, policies affecting housing and healthcare, and police reform. The winner will likely have to make those decisions in the Democratic-controlled House, Senate, and governor’s office.

Washington legislators who are not caucus leaders are paid a salary of $57,876 annually.

Q: What are your top legislative priorities if elected, and how will you achieve them in Olympia during your term?

A: Our region’s top priority is not one, but many. At the top of my list are economic development, affordability issues (health care, housing, food, child care, etc.), long-term water management in the Walla Walla Basin, and educational opportunities. My strategy for the past four years has been to work across the aisles for the benefit of my district. This spirit of cooperation has worked well in our school district, and many of the bills I sponsored have been passed. Bills on Water Rights and Use of Straw Pulp, School Safety and Mental Health Support for Correctional Workers.

Q: Voting is at the heart of our democracy, and Washington residents vote by mail. Do you support this method of voting? Are there any areas of the voting system that you are working on to improve or change in the current system?

A: I don’t think this will be an issue in Congress next year. However, we do support email in polls for a few reasons. Allowing a voting period longer than one day will give you access to more participants. Many people work in rigid jobs or work long hours, making it difficult or even impossible to meet in person on a particular day. I was a co-sponsor of a bill (now a law) requiring states to provide prepaid postage for ballots because constitutional rights should in principle be as accessible as possible.

I know there are concerns that voter fraud is rampant, and I take it seriously. Although very few cases of fraud have been prosecuted, evidence to support widespread fraud claims has not materialized. Washington has been a mail-in ballot state for a very long time, and in my opinion, it’s almost right. Of course, I always support changes to improve electoral confidence and security. Because that is the foundation of our democratic republic. After discussing these issues with election officials, including former Secretary of State Kim Wyman, I am confident that mail-in ballots can continue to be effective and fair in Washington.

Q: What would you do if you were chosen to improve access to health care, including mental health, in rural areas?

A: I have already had the opportunity to work on health policy in Congress and serve on the House Health Care Committee. One of the projects I sponsored with my capital budget funded the expansion of the Columbia County Health System in Dayton to build a dental office. This will enable the expansion of dental services to the local Medicaid population in a financially sustainable model. I sponsored legislation authorizing peer-to-peer mental health support programs for correctional staff who often experience traumatic and stressful work environments. This is now law.

I support expanding treatment options for individuals experiencing substance use addiction. This may be in the form of facility construction costs and/or educational and training opportunities for mental health professionals. I advocated for increased funding of school support staff to address the current gap in counselors and other mental health professionals. In eastern Washington, policies that disallow urban-rural differences generally don’t work, so when these conversations are taking place in Olympia, we continue to let rural areas have a say.

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