Bellingham resident Natalie McClendon will seek the 42nd legislative district state representative position currently held by Blaine resident Jason Overstreet.
McClendon is the current chair of the Whatcom Democrats organization. The 42nd district comprises most of Whatcom County, including Blaine and Birch Bay.
McClendon said she’s intent on bringing her organizational and teaching experience to bear by working to ensure the average 42nd district resident has a better understanding of the legislative process. McClendon taught at Timber Ridge High School just north of Bellingham for a number of years and said she has always been passionate about community education.
“I hope that I’ll be able to [educate people about] the legislature so they will better understand the legislature’s impact,” McClendon said.
If elected, McClendon said she would work to solve state budget issues by bringing more revenue-generating options to the table.
McClendon sees closing tax loopholes that could raise taxes for some state residents as possible solutions, an approach that Overstreet is against, she said.
“Representative Overstreet has basically said ‘no’ to any of that,” McClendon said. “It ties the hands of the legislature.”
McClendon said she would specifically like to reform the state’s business and operations tax (B&O), which is assessed on the gross receipts of businesses, not profits. As a local business owner along with her husband, photographer Mark Turner, McClendon said she understands how the B&O tax can hurt businesses in their first or second year of operation.
“It’s essentially an income tax without acknowledging any expenses or deductions,” she said. “I see that as a serious impediment to people expanding businesses.”
Though the 42nd district skewed conservative in the 2010 general elections, with voters electing Republicans to the state senator and representative seats, McClendon said the 42nd has historically been a swing district. Based on 2010 election figures, McClendon said she thinks a fair amount of people who had never voted before voted Republican, a reactionary trend McClendon thinks will not necessarily repeat this year.
“I think there may be some buyers’ remorse, or at least a realization that there’s more to governance than reacting to a perceived threat,” McClendon said.
She sees the position as up in the air and said she’ll be focusing heavily on northern Whatcom County. McClendon said she also recognizes the importance of connecting with people across the county in an election year where the 1st congressional district race, rather than the legislative district contests, will most likely take center stage.
“Almost invariably, a legislative campaign is pretty much below the radar, so it will require me to really get out there and talk to people,” she said.
Overstreet, who could not be reached by phone, submitted an email reply to requests for comment.
“I look forward to a lively debate, comparing and contrasting my position of less government, lower taxes and more freedom, with that of my opponent,” Overstreet wrote.
Overstreet defeated Bellingham police detective Al Jensen in the 2010 representative race with 52.8 percent of the vote to Jensen’s 47.3 percent. Voters also elected fellow Republicans Doug Ericksen and Vincent Buys to the state senator and remaining representative seats, respectively.
According to WashingtonVotes.org, Overstreet introduced seven bills in the 2011/2012 legislative session, two of which were passed into law. One bill set the starting time for legislative sessions while the other made mail theft a state felony.
Photo courtesy of Natalie McClendon.