Schmick hopes to improve rural mental health, education

Candidate wants to work on educational need grants, opposes several initiatives



9th District Position 2 incumbent Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, answers a question at a voters forum held on July 18 at Neill Public Library.

CARMEN JARAMILLO, Evergreen reporter

Republican Rep. Joe Schmick, a 60-year-old farmer and small business owner from Colfax, Washington, is running for re-election in the 9th Legislative District which he has represented for 11 years.

Schmick said going into the next legislative session, the most important issue to him is mental health. He said in rural areas like the 9th District, there are not enough facilities and resources in place to help people who need it.

“We need to be making progress on that front,” Schmick said. “We need to make sure that our communities are safe, and mental health and substance abuse have a lot to do with that.”

Schmick said he wants his constituents to know he is a strong supporter of private property rights, is committed to funding education in Washington state, making sure the state “lives within its means” and does not increase taxes.

Schmick said his opponent, Democratic challenger Matthew Sutherland, has been unfairly critical of him on the topic of education. Sutherland has criticized Shmick’s vote against Senate Bill 6362 in 2018. The bill brought Washington state into compliance with the 2007 McCleary Washington state Supreme Court decision that said the state was violating its constitution by not fully funding education.

Schmick said he wants people to know he voted against the bill because he believed it was not doing enough for small rural school districts like those in Eastern Washington.

“I was really concerned for our real small school districts and that was part of the reason I voted no,” Schmick said. “That just shows that I am working for the 9th District and for the issues that people find are very important to them.”

Schmick said another issue he plans to work on is State Need Grants for higher education.

He said there is a large portion of applicants applying for grants who are eligible but are not receiving them and the state needs to ensure those people can get an education.

On ballot issues coming before the voters in November, Schmick said he is opposed to I-1639, which seeks to strengthen gun laws, I-1631, which would impose a tax on carbon emissions and I-940, which concerns mental health trainings for law enforcement and the use of deadly force.