Wheat Farmer Mary Dye Seeks Return to Olympia Against
by Chelsea Bannach
If Jennifer Goulet lands a seat in the state House, it would be the first time a Democrat has been elected in the district since 1937.
Goulet, of Pasco, is running for the state's 9th Legislative District -- which covers a large, mostly-rural swath of southeastern Washington -- against incumbent Republican Mary Dye, of Pomeroy.
Goulet said Eastern Washington is ready for progressive leadership in Olympia.
"I think I have pretty good reason to have hope," she said. "I definitely get the sense that things have changed here."
But her opponent said constituents don't want or need the progressive ideals Goulet champions. They need practical solutions that don't upset the whole system, Dye said. Voters gave her strong support in the August primary. She took 58 percent of the vote.
"I think that her interests are represented more on the West Side," Dye said. "People here ... want someone that understands the threat to our way of life. People are looking for someone who has a good handle on what makes our district tick."
The two candidates come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, and their campaign financing is as contrasting as their political positions.
As of Sept. 23, Dye had raised about $50,830, much of it from big players in Olympia. Goulet had raised about $6,000, mostly from individual contributors.
Goulet -- who identifies as a Berniecrat because of her support of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders -- lambasted Dye for accepting campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry, including Abbott Laboratories, the maker of the opioid drug Vicoprofen, as well as other corporate contributors.
"I'm not going to be taking money from the corporations," Goulet said. "I don't want to have them believe that they have any more influence over me than any other individual. I'm just trying to stay true to my values."
Other issues at the heart of Goulet's campaign include tax reform, tying the minimum wage to cost of living, and supporting the implementation of a single-payer, universal health care system on the national level. She is also an advocate for LGBT rights and women's reproductive rights.
Dye, who operates a wheat farm, said Goulet lacks knowledge of rural life, the intricacies of the agricultural industry and the problems farmers face -- including a lack of indemnity amid a costly quality-control issue impacting wheat growers in the region.
"I'm really glad that I'm there and I can advocate for our industry at this very critical juncture," Dye said. "This is where people on the margins really suffer and I want to keep these little farm communities vibrant and alive."
If re-elected, Dye said she plans to continue working on bills to improve fire response in the region, bring broadband to rural areas so residents can be more competitive in the global marketplace, and provide more water lines to support increased food production in the area.
In the primaries, she topped two challengers, Goulet and Republican Hailey Roemer, of Pullman.
"I feel like I'm a good fit for the district, and that was recognized," Dye said.
However, Goulet said there are progressive pockets in the historically Republican district. She said a high voter turnout will be key to her unseating Dye in the Nov. 8 general election.
"Voting all the way down the ballot really does matter," she said.
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