by AMANDA WINTERS
For the first time in 12 years, State Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, has a challenger in his bid for a sixth term in the Washington State Senate.
Hargrove, elected to the state Senate in 1993 after serving four terms in the state House of Representatives, faces Larry Carter, I-Port Ludlow, in the primary and general election for the 24th Legislative District.
With a focus on mental health, crime, and human services, including children’s issues, Hargrove said he wants to continue “making government work right” and saving taxpayers money by solving problems.
Carter, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for state representative in 2010, is running with a focus on changing regulations that hamper businesses, protecting against encroaching environmental regulations, and campaign finance reform.
Carter said he chose to run as an Independent because neither the Democratic nor Republican party suited him.
Calling himself a “blue dog Democrat from Louisiana,” Carter said he was too moderate to fit in with the Jefferson County Democrats and also too moderate for the Jefferson County Republican Party.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in the county that has better credentials to call themselves an Independent than I do,” he said.
Hargrove, a forester and business owner, broke party lines to vote against same-sex marriage Feb. 1.
Carter said he supports the rights of gay couples to have the same rights as straight couples but he will support whatever the law turns out to be after the voters decide.
Carter said he filed to run against Hargrove during the last half hour of the filing period.
“We have got to make some changes,” he said, adding he has nothing against Hargrove personally, “but he’s just been there too long.”
On sex crimes
Carter said he is running against Hargrove’s record, particularly the state senator’s refusal to put a bill removing the statute of limitations on child sex crimes before the state Senate for consideration.
The bill, SB 1657, passed the state House of Representatives unanimously in 2011 and was shot down by Hargrove, who is chair of the Human Services and Corrections Committee.
Hargrove said he relies on experts to tell him whether or not something will work and they told him it wasn’t a good idea.
“I said, ‘Look, I don’t have time for it in my agenda; I’m going to put it to the experts,’” he said.
Removing the statute of limitations on child sex crimes could result in more children being victimized because others took too long to come forward and report the offenses, he said.
According to a state senate staff report, as the law stands now the crimes of first or second-degree rape may be prosecuted for 10 years after the act if the victim reports the rape to law enforcement within a year, except if the victim is younger than 14, in which case the the crimes may be prosecuted until the victim’s 28th birthday. If the victim did not report the rape within a year, the crime may be prosecuted for three years, except if the victim was younger than 14, in which case the crime may be prosecuted for three years after the victim’s 18th birthday or seven years after the commission, whichever is later.
The crimes of rape of a child in the first or second degree may be prosecuted up to the victim’s 28th birthday.
The bill sought to allow rape in the first or second degree to be prosecuted at any time after the act’s commission if the victim was younger than 18 at the time of the act.
“I think that’s a real slap in the face to anyone who has been abused,” Carter said of Hargrove’s action.
Hargrove said he sent a letter to the Sex Offender Policy Board asking them to review the bill and he will suggest adopting whatever they recommend.
He pointed out he received “Legislator of the Year” award from the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs in 2012 and has a strong record implementing evidence-based practices to keep children safe and out of trouble and lower crime rates.
On natural resources
As a forester involved in re-planting trees and a member of the Natural Resources & Marine Waters Committee, Hargrove said he also focuses his efforts on natural resources.
This last year he was involved with legislation amending the hydraulics process and streamlining permit processes so it’s easier for the industry to deal with. He also worked to extend some stormwater deadlines that are expensive to adopt.
Hargrove said he is fairly familiar with the proposed state Department of Ecology water rule and is trying to get them to re-review their science.
“It seems like the build-out for the next 30 years is relatively small and maybe doesn’t justify all the provisions in that rule,” he said.
But if they don’t do something, instream flow issues could result in litigation in court, he said.
“That could bring everything to a screeching halt,” he said.
Carter, a retired command master chief in the U.S. Navy, said he is concerned about swelling environmental regulations.
“The more rights and freedoms they seem hell bent to take away from the individual property owner…we feel we don’t even own the property anymore the state and the feds just let us live here out of the goodness of their hearts,” he said.
With proposals to add wilderness designations and more land to national parks, Carter said he is concerned access will only be available to people who are trail-savvy.