Shift’s Newsmaker Interview is with 44th Legislative District Republican House candidate Mark Harmsworth, who is running against Democrat Representative Brandy Donaghy who was appointed to the position early this year. This race in Central Snohomish County is targeted by both parties as the Republicans seek to take control of the legislature this November. Harmsworth served in the House from 2015 to 2019 after completing two terms on the Mill Creek City Council. Recently Harmsworth has worked as the Center for Small Business Director for the Washington Policy Center and runs his own IT consulting company. Like many of his fellow GOP candidates, Harmsworth is highlighting public safety issues in his campaign after the Democrats’ 2021 anti-police legislation led to a significant rise in crime across Washington. In his interview Harmsworth discusses making the state a more affordable place to live and work, repealing the Long-Term Care payroll tax, public safety, helping small businesses, and providing Shift readers with his very unique, yet worthy favorite book.
First, tell us about yourself and why do you want to return to the Washington State House of Representatives.
Washington State has so much potential and yet, with all that potential, the current administration and legislature are doing things that prevent us from realizing the dream. We’ve seen increases in crime, homelessness, gas prices and grocery prices. Our kids lost almost two years of learning and our transportation system is failing. All of this is preventable with common sense legislation that gets the government out of our lives, focused on what is really needed and lets us make our own choices. These are not a Democrat or Republican ideals – all of us want to live our lives in peace and enjoy safe neighborhoods, a reasonable cost of living, a great education system and to be able to get to work on time without spending a fortune doing it.
I’m running to make that a reality.
It seems like everyone is talking about the significant increase in crime which has hit our state since the passage of the Democrats’ anti-police package during the 2021 legislative session. What are your thoughts on what the legislature needs to do to reduce crime in Washington State?
Recent changes to state law driven by the efforts to defund police have gutted law enforcement. The result has been increased crime and unsafe neighborhoods. We need to fully fund law enforcement and emergency services to keep our neighborhoods safe, homes secure and allow our kids to get to school safely. We need to repeal many of the changes that have limited law enforcement ability to do their job.
We need to pass laws that hold criminals accountable for what they do and require them to pay their debt to society.
The Democrats who control the legislature chose to spend the billions in surplus tax revenues to make state government larger. What do you believe should have been done to with the surplus revenue?
Give the surplus back to the voters of Washington in the form of a direct tax reduction or through reductions in the sales tax, car tabs and tolling fees. It’s the people’s money, not the politicians.
What is the best way for the Washington Legislature to help those who are on fixed- or lower- income during these times of high inflation?
Stop passing laws that increase the cost of living. Focus on law that will reduce the tax burden not only on residents directly, but on the businesses that are providing products and services. Reducing overburdensome regulation and tax burden on businesses will allow business to compete. This will then reduce prices.
The 2022 legislative Democrats kicked the Long-Term Care can down the road for the 2023 legislature to deal with. What is the best way for the legislature to deal with the long-term care for Washington residents?
Long term care needs to be repealed. There are, and were before the law was passed, more competitive options available for long term care in the private sector. The government should not be forcing Washington residents to pay for a uncompetitive, poorly structed health care plan. The choice to purchase long term care should be left up to the individual.
You primarily worked on small business issues while with the Washington Policy Center. What is one thing the legislature should do to help the small business employer?
Change the B&O tax structure from a tax on gross income to a net income tax or value added tax. Allow businesses to deduct expenses from their gross income. Its crazy that a business is forced to pay tax on a product that they are reselling so they make a loss.
What is a book that had a big influence on you? Why?
I’m probably supposed to put something profound and life changing as a response, and I have read several books that fall into that category, but I also think we can take life and ourselves to seriously sometimes and we just need a good laugh. So, my response is The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. And why, well that would be 42 of course.
To learn more about Mark Harmsworth and his campaign, please visit his website.