What is the 35th District thinking?

The following newsletter was sent to Sen. Tim Sheldon’s subscribers April 16, 2019. To subscribe to Sen. Sheldon’s newsletters, click here.

On the Senate floor.

Survey shows strong opposition to tax hikes, green agenda

Participation in this year’s 35th District survey is four times higher than typical

Every year we survey the residents of the 35th District to measure attitudes toward the biggest issues before the Legislature. This year’s results are among the most striking we have seen. While the Legislature debates tax increases and a sweeping green agenda, the people of our district are overwhelmingly opposed.

And not just that. The Legislature’s leftward direction this year has prompted an outpouring of concern from across the district. Normally we get about 500 responses. This year we received nearly 2,000. 

People are frustrated, and they want the Legislature to know it. They don’t want higher taxes, and they don’t want to pay more for gas and electricity. If legislators think they are going to be greeted by cheering crowds when they return home this year, they are going to be very surprised.

State spending is a central issue this year as majority Democrats in the House and Senate advocate higher taxes, despite a $5 billion increase in tax collections. Just eight percent of respondents said they believed the Legislature should raise taxes this year. A new income tax on capital gains, a favorite proposal for many in the Legislature, is opposed by 81 percent. 

This year’s results are really a reflection of the mood of the most committed and engaged voters of the district. When more than 90 percent of people express the same opinion, we’re probably safe in calling it a trend.

Key findings

  • 92 percent say they oppose proposals to raise taxes, nearly half of them saying the Legislature ought to return money to the taxpayers in the form of tax cuts.
  • 90 percent oppose higher taxes on small business.
  • 85 percent oppose Seattle’s plan to impose tolls on downtown streets, which would have great impact on outlying districts like the 35th, where there are no practical transit options.
  • 80 percent oppose low carbon fuel standards, a plan that would require motorists to subsidize carbon-reduction programs, very similar to the carbon-tax initiative rejected by Washington voters last fall.
  • 73 percent oppose replacing the state’s gas tax with a per-mile tax.
  • 84 percent oppose legislative efforts to prohibit independent contracting or impose high taxes on contractors, such as barbers, hairdressers and independent contractors.
  • 41 percent say jobs and the economy are the biggest issue before the Legislature.
  • 63 percent say saving the orca by rebuilding Puget Sound fish runs should be a priority.

The thoughtful comments many people sent with their surveys offer great insight into the issues people find important. Some spoke up specifically for gun rights, while others talked about the need to respect the constitution and the liberties we all enjoy as citizens. Some say spending is too high and others say we have too many taxes.

But when you get down to it, what the vast majority of people are saying is that they resent efforts to make government bigger and more expensive and more powerful, at the expense of the individual. That’s a message the Legislature needs to hear – even if it doesn’t want to.

One of our questions this year asked people to identify the biggest single issue before the Legislature this year. Many named issues that did not register in previous polls. These issues include homelessness and Seattle’s failure to enforce laws against vagrancy, creeping “socialism” in the state Legislature, and Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to use public tax money to pay for his security detail as he mounts his presidential campaign.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s survey and helped make it a success! 

Survey results

1,951 voters responded to this year’s survey. Results are as follows:


Speaking up for constitutional rights


An urban-rural split on gun issues: To see floor speech, click here.

One of the biggest concerns cited by people who responded to this year’s survey is the Legislature’s never-ending effort to impose new restrictions on gun ownership. I had a chance to speak about this issue during debate Thursday on a bill that would give police additional authority to confiscate firearms. Wouldn’t it be better if we tried to find solutions that work for everyone in the state? In the 35th District, we have a much different view toward guns than we see in the state’s urban areas. One of the biggest challenges for the Legislature is devising laws that work for districts like ours as well as for the people of Seattle. I am a strong believer in Second Amendment rights, and am opposed to measures that infringe the rights of law-abiding people who live in rural areas.

Looking at those survey results

Our survey got a thoughtful shout-out on the John Carlson Show last week on KVI-AM in Seattle. His take on the results makes for interesting listening. You can hear it by clicking here.

A special thanks to this year’s Senate pages!

One of the happiest duties for any legislator is hosting the many bright young people who come to Olympia each session to serve as pages. The Senate page program offers an opportunity for youths ages 14 to 16 to spend a week working in the Legislature. We’re all booked up for this year, but if you know of anyone who might be interested in serving next session, more information can be found here.

We’ll have more page photos in our next newsletter.


With this week’s pages. 

Zachary Peach (left, front), Shelton, an eighth grader at Olympic Middle School. Peach, 14, is the son of Matt and Erin VanHorn.

Claire Warthen (left, rear), Bremerton, an eighth grader at Mountain View Middle School. Warthen, 14, is the daughter of Chris Warthen and Aimee Gordon.

Mallory Engel (right, front), Shelton, a 10th grader at Shelton High School. Engel, 16, is the daughter of Max and Kim Engel.

David Hoebing (right, rear), Tenino, a ninth grader at Tenino High School. Hoebing. 14, is the son of Paul and Jodi Hoebing.

AlyssaJo Hepp, Rochester, an eighth grader at Rochester Middle School. Hepp, 14, is the daughter of Phillip and BrandyJo Hepp.

Justice Thompson, Rochester, an eighth grader at Rochester Middle School. Thompson, 14, is the son of Ginger Thompson of Rochester.

Haley Stark, Olympia, a ninth grader at Tumwater High School. Stark, 15, is the daughter of Michael and Katy Stark.

Quinn Martin, Shelton, an eighth grader at Oakland Bay Junior High School. Martin, 14, is the son of David and Jennifer Martin.

Logan Matthews, Olympia, an eighth grader at Washington Middle School. Matthews, 14, is the son of Travis and Jennifer Matthews.

Hannah Shrum, Shelton, a 10th grader at Shelton High School. Shrum, 15, is the daughter of Tony and Katie Shrum.

Adam Brooks, Olympia, a ninth grader at Northwest Christian High School. Matthews, 14, is the son of Lisa and Tony Brooks.


Contact us!

Our session runs until April 28, but we’re here to serve you year-round. If you have a comment or concern about a state agency or the direction of state government in general, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We want to hear from you. 

Phone: (360) 786-7668

Office address: 417 Legislative Building, Olympia, WA  98504

Mailing address: PO Box 40435, Olympia, WA  98504

Email address: Timothy.Sheldon@leg.wa.gov

Website: http://www.senatortimsheldon.org

To leave a message for any lawmaker, call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000.