Elections: Race for state senator, 18th Legislative District

Clark County Today offers a look at the race for state senator in the 18th Legislative District

On Wednesday, the three candidates for state senator in the 18th Legislative District participated in the League of Women Voters candidate forum, held in a virtual format.

Clark County Today offers a look at the race for state senator in the 18th Legislative District.
Rick Bell • Ann Rivers • John Ley

Incumbent Sen. Ann Rivers, who prefers the Republican Party, is being challenged by Democrat Rick Bell and Republican John Ley. Two of the candidates will advance from the Aug. 4 primary election to the November general election.

All three candidates participated in Wednesday’s forum, answering eight questions posed to them by a moderator. The candidates also were able to make a closing statement. For video coverage of the candidate forum, follow this link to CVTV.org: https://www.cvtv.org/vid_link/31306

Here is bio information on each candidate (in alphabetical order):

Rick Bell (Democrat) 

Rick Bell is a small business owner whose elected experience is as a precinct committee officer. His professional experience is extensive in the healthcare industry including as a founder of a Healthcare IT startup; enterprise software consultant; hospital IT director and software engineer. 

Rick Bell
Rick Bell

Bell earned a degree in Philosophy from Swarthmore College and The Healthcare MBA from Oregon Health and Sciences University. Bell prototyped an App that helps patients fight insurance claim denials. He has also worked to help patients securely control their health data and also to help patients select convenient, quality healthcare services.

“As a small business owner, I see how businesses can’t hire new employees because of healthcare costs,’’ Bell said in a statement for the voter’s pamphlet. “If you would like to know where your income raises have gone, it’s to pay for healthcare. Over the last four years, the total average increase for health plans is up over 50 percent. Benefits have gotten slimmer while deductibles and copays are higher. 

“In 2021, Washington will implement a public option for healthcare,’’ he added. “Because no law is perfect, we must keep working hard to drive costs down while still protecting people with preexisting conditions and ensuring everyone receives convenient, quality care. COVID-19 has exposed gaps and unfairness in the healthcare system, especially for vulnerable seniors. As we go forward, we cannot just recover; we have to do better.

“Olympia could use my experience in healthcare, cybersecurity and big data, but more importantly, you deserve a senator who fights, on your side, for quality, affordable healthcare instead of letting prices continue to rise and our experience as patients suffer,’’ Bell stated. “If you worry about the cost of prescription drugs, monthly premiums, ER visits, and all the rest, then the question boils down to this, “Are you willing to elect someone new to fix this?” 

For more information, visit his campaign website, www.citizenbell.com.

John Ley (Republican)

John Ley recently retired as a commercial airline pilot. His elected experience includes serving as a precinct committee officer; Air Line Pilots Association Board of Directors and Chairman Council 124; deputy state master councilor, Oregon DeMolay youth organization. His professional experience includes captain Delta Air Lines; federal flight deck officer; ALPA Major Contingency Fund chairman; United States Air Force instructor pilot and flight commander, KC-135; Public Affairs officer and small business owner. 

John Ley
John Ley

Ley is a graduate of Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He is also a Distinguished Graduate USAF Squadron Officer School and his education background includes Air Command and Staff College and USAF ROTC scholarship. In the community, Ley has served as a transportation and responsible spending activist; campaign manager and as an organizer Special Olympics and United Way. 

“Sometimes politicians stay too long,’’ Ley said in a statement. “They forget about promises made on the campaign trail and ignore the will of the people. Hardworking families suffer because of their tax and spend voting record. It’s time for positive change in Southwest Washington. As a proven conservative leader, I’ll deliver on my promises.

“As your Senator, I’ll fight for new bridge corridors to relieve traffic congestion and improve freight mobility, instead of supporting the failed Columbia River Crossing boondoggle,’’ Ley added. “Instead of voting for the biggest gas tax in Washington history, I’ll stretch scarce transportation dollars to benefit everyone. I’ll continue to fight against Oregon’s outrageous tolling scheme to pick your pockets. I’ll fight for comprehensive tax relief instead of supporting the largest property tax increase in state history. 

“Citizens deserve a world-class education system,’’ Ley stated. “The quality of our children’s education has languished, providing minimal value for increased spending. I’ll work to fix this. In this pandemic-damaged economy, it’s more important than ever to elect leaders who will keep their promises. I’ll foster a better business climate for job creators to get our state working again. We need tax cuts, not tax increases.’’

For more information, go to Ley’s campaign website, www.electjohnley.com.

Ann Rivers (Republican) 

Ann Rivers has served two terms as state senator and one as a state representative. She also served as a county freeholder in 2014, helping to create the county’s Home Rule Charter. Her professional experience includes time as a small business owner and middle school Math and Science teacher.

Ann Rivers
Ann Rivers

Rivers earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Central Michigan University and a Secondary Education Certificate and Natural Science minor at Lewis Clark State College. Her community service includes commission member, Washington State Women’s Commission; member of Cascadia Tech and WSU Advisory Councils, board member of the North Clark County Community Food Bank and former board member of the Building Industry Association of Clark County, Habitat for Humanity, LaCenter Education Foundation, and survivor chairwoman for the West Clark County Relay For Life. 

“As your state senator, my first priority and greatest reward comes from listening to your feedback and helping constituents navigate problems and issues dealing with state government,’’ Rivers said in a statement. “Washington is facing unprecedented budget cuts and job losses due to Covid-19. Having been first elected in the Great Recession, I’ve been successful in leading us through tough times and into prosperity. 

“It’s critical that representatives in Olympia have solutions,’’ Rivers added. “The legislature must review the extraordinary powers Governor Inslee has taken and protect our individual freedoms. I’ll ensure budget cuts don’t impact our ability to get kids back to school or maintain critical human services Washingtonians rely upon. Bills that don’t help create private sector jobs or preserve core government functions should be tabled until everyone is working again. 

“Most importantly, I’ll advocate to ensure federal disaster dollars are equitably distributed across the state where they are urgently needed, not just in Seattle,’’ Rivers stated. “When it mattered most, you put your faith in me as your voice in Olympia. There are times, like now, we’ll need to make difficult decisions for the betterment of working families and seniors. I’m asking for your trust to serve you again.’’ 

For more information, go to Rivers’ campaign website www.annrivers.com.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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