WASHINGTON law allows candidates to describe themselves on the ballot any way they choose, and Christopher Hurst has taken full advantage. Since 2010 the longtime state representative from Enumclaw has called himself an “independent Democrat.” His description is thoroughly apt.
Aligned with his party on social issues, Hurst has demonstrated his willingness to buck his party’s leadership on business issues and education. During six terms in office he has helped steer political debate toward the center, and for that he earns the Times’ recommendation.
Hurst is running for re-election to House Position 2 in the 31st Legislative District. The Times editorial board previously recommended two candidates in that district before the primary election. They are Republican Cathy Dahlquist of Enumclaw, the House member who is running for Senate this year against state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, and Republican Drew Stokesbary of Auburn, who is running for Dahlquist’s current House seat, Position 1.
Hurst, who worked 25 years as a police officer, is chairman of the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. He has shown his policy smarts as the Legislature oversees the implementation of legal marijuana sales and the state’s newly privatized liquor market.
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And sometimes, Hurst is willing to stand up and fight. In 2011 he was among a group of moderate Democrats in the House who insisted on needed reforms to the state’s unemployment insurance and worker compensation systems. Despite stiff opposition from labor, they won the battle; Hurst says he still bears scars but argues reform should go further.
Unlike many of his Democratic colleagues, Hurst also is willing to challenge the politically powerful Washington Education Association, the state teachers’ union. He maintains the Legislature should have passed a bill that would have included test scores in teacher evaluations, which would have preserved districts’ control over $40 million in federal money for classroom programs.
Hurst is among the tiny minority of Democrats who are willing to speak the truth about the class-size initiative the union has placed on the fall ballot. With a price tag of nearly $4 billion every two years, he says Initiative 1351 will devastate efforts to keep state spending under control.
If only other members of his party would be so bold.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).