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Meet the candidates vying for two District 39 House seats in the August primary

Five candidates are competing for two seats representing Skagit and Snohomish counties

By Annie Todd Criminal Justice/Enterprise Reporter

This election reporting is provided free to all readers as a public service by your locally owned Cascadia Daily News. Thanks for supporting truly local news by donating to CDN or subscribing here.

With two seats up for grabs in the Legislative District 39 House race, the primary field is looking a little crowded with multiple challengers going up against the two Republican incumbents. 

The district, encompassing parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties from the urban Lake Stevens up to the more rural area of Concrete, leans heavily Republican. Indeed, incumbents Rep. Sam Low, R-Lake Stevens, and Rep. Carolyn Eslick, R-Sultan, are not worried about their standing with voters, even after being censured by two county Republican parties within the district for votes taken during the last legislative session.

Low’s challengers for Position 1 include Republican firebrand and former Rep. Robert Sutherland, Independent Kathryn Lewandowsky, and Democrat Zephaniah Borynack. Eslick’s challenger for Position 2 is Republican newcomer Jackie Huey. 

While the candidates are aware of the affordability crisis facing Washingtonians and want to cut taxes or find unique ways to support seniors priced out of their homes, they also have their own niche platforms that they think can appeal to voters.

House Position 1

Low thinks his two years in the House working on issues from the state’s ferries network (as assistant ranking member on the House transportation committee) to animal cruelty was enough to get voters to send him back to Olympia. 

A bearded man wears a suit and holds a microphone in one hand and a piece of paper in the other.
District 39 House Rep. Sam Low is running for reelection. (Photo courtesy of Sam Low)

With five electric ferries being constructed over the next six years, Low pointed to the transportation gap that still needs to be filled.

“I’m hoping that we can tackle filling the gap in between maybe by purchasing some used ferries that might work with the existing infrastructure we already have and get that relief to people that are struggling,” he said.

Sutherland, who served in Olympia from 2019-2021 before losing his seat to Low and who unsuccessfully ran for Snohomish County Auditor in 2023, said he’s bringing election integrity to his campaign.

A white man wearing a suit and tie
Former Rep. Robert Sutherland is running for District 39 House. (Photo courtesy of Robert Sutherland)

“There’s hardly a person I’ve talked to who says, ‘Robert, why should I vote? They’re cheating, my vote doesn’t count’,” he said, noting that during his second term in Olympia he sponsored four election reform bills, including one to end mail-in ballots. “People are concerned about the integrity of our election system.”

None of Sutherland’s sponsored election bills made it through committee. He also cast doubt on the 2020 election, including helping to host an unofficial public hearing in 2021 asking members of the public to bring forward evidence of voting fraud or irregularities.  

On the flip side of the political aisle, Lewandowsky, who’s filed to run as an Independent in the past few elections in District 39, once in the House and once in the Senate, hopes her 38 years as a registered nurse brings some much needed health care experience to Olympia. 

A white woman wearing glasses with her hair pulled back.
Kathryn Lewandowsky, an Independent, is running for District 39 House. (Photo courtesy of Kathryn Lewandowsky)

“We have so much potential to save money or to use those profits created within our health care industry and direct those to other important needs,” she said. “We have a ton of waste and a ton of excess profits in our health care system. We need to fix it.”

Lewandowsky has been heavily involved in the fight for the Washington Health Trust, which would create a single-payer health care system at the state level, and if sent to Olympia, hopes to bring it as a bill.

The Democrat who’s running, Borynack, did not return multiple calls or emails about their platform. Borynack doesn’t have a campaign website either.

House Position 2

As for Position 2, Eslick is hoping her support for children and families during her three terms is enough to keep her in Olympia. If reelected, she wants to continue implementing a home-sharing program for seniors across the state.

“It’s a dating game, so to speak, for seniors,” she said, explaining that the program matches seniors with an open room in their house with a senior in search of housing. Home-share programs in Tacoma and Snohomish County are already running.

“Because of inflation, there’s so many seniors that are really looking at the possibility of being homeless and this is one small way we could help them,” she said.

A woman wearing glasses with short hair in front of pink flowers
Rep. Carolyn Eslick is running for District 39 House. (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Eslick)

Her Republican challenger, Jackie Huey, is a newcomer to politics. Huey describes herself as a lifelong volunteer and got into the race because she didn’t want to see Eslick go unchallenged.

Huey listed supporting parental rights, law enforcement and protecting constitutional rights as her main platform. She was also concerned about rising taxes.

“I believe you, the taxpayer, would have a choice of where your money is being spent,” she said. “The well-being of your family is affected greatly by the higher gas, property and sales taxes. I am running to oppose outrageous spending that will bankrupt Washington.”

Since Eslick and Huey are the only two candidates running for Position Two in District 39, the women will advance to the general election in November. 

A woman wearing a black baseball cap and a leopard print shirt.
Jackie Huey is running for District 39 House. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Huey)

Eslick and Low were censured by the 39 LD Republican Committee, Snohomish County Republican Party and the Skagit County Republican Party in February because of their support of House Bill 2368, a law that created support resources and services for immigrants and refugees. Both representatives said they weren’t concerned about the intra-party politics impacting their campaigns for reelection.

“The Republican Party doesn’t put us in our seat, the constituents and the voters do,” Eslick said, “So I didn’t lose a lot of sleep over it. They didn’t have enough education to understand where we were coming from on this one vote.”

Low has endorsements from numerous Republican lawmakers and local leaders, as well as Washington Building Trades, UA32 and Mainstream Republicans of Washington. Sutherland got endorsements from the 39th LD Republican Committee, the Snohomish County Republican Party and the Skagit County Republican Party. Lewandowsky has been endorsed by former Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, Snohomish County Indivisible and Mental Health Now.

Eslick has endorsements from the Washington Mainstream Republicans and multiple local leaders across Skagit and Snohomish counties. Huey nabbed endorsements from the Snohomish Republican Party and the 39th LD Republican Committee.

Annie Todd is CDN’s criminal justice/enterprise reporter; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 130.

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