Schmick holds on to 9th district seat against Sutherland



Washington State’s 9th Legislative District Position 2 incumbent Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, answers a question at a voters forum held by the League of Women Voters of Pullman on July 18 at the Neill Public Library in Pullman.

CARMEN JARAMILLO, Evergreen reporter

Incumbent Joe Schmick (R) beat out Democratic challenger Matthew Sutherland in Tuesday’s election to continue representing Washington’s 9th District in the state House of Representatives.

Sutherland, a WSU graduate student, was Schmick’s first Democratic challenger since 2008. He won with 64.4 percent of the vote to Sutherland’s 35.6 percent.

“I’m very honored and very humbled for the vote the voters gave me,” Schmick said. “I’m looking forward to go to work.”

Schmick is a farmer and businessman who has represented the 9th District for 11 years. He said his top priority going into the 2019 legislative session will be improving mental health care access in rural communities.

He said another important issue is education, where there is still more work to be done to protect funding for small school districts like those in the 9th District.

Sutherland said he is proud of all the work that was put in on his campaign and other Democratic campaigns in Washington. He said it’s important for Democrats to run in traditionally Republican-held districts and challenge stereotypes.

“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle,” Sutherland said. “Democrats aren’t supposed to win out here, but we’re happy with the success that we’ve had.”

Whitman County was not reporting votes until late on Tuesday night, leaving the Sutherland camp optimistic until the last minute.