October 7, 2022
From the Editor’s Desk: Fact-checking the House candidates
Mike Sato and Salish Current Staff

Five of six candidates for 40th and 42nd Legislative District House seats appeared in a recent online forum presented by Bellingham City Club. In pursuit of the truth, Salish Current staff have done a post-event fact check on some of the candidate statements. (Salish Current file photo)

October 7, 2022
From the Editor’s Desk: Fact-checking the House candidates
Mike Sato and Salish Current Staff

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[Updated Oct. 24, 2022; see editor’s note below]

In our continued commitments to accuracy and to the fight against misinformation in our political system, the Salish Current fact-checked some of the statements made by the candidates for 40th and 42nd District House of Representatives seats at a Bellingham City Club online forum held on Sept. 28.

Candidates participating in the forum were 40th District Position 2 candidate incumbent Alex Ramel (D), 42nd District Position 1 candidates incumbent Alicia Rule (D) and Tawsha D. Thompson (R), and 42nd District Position 2 candidates Joe Timmons (D) and Dan Johnson (R).

40th Legislative District Position 2

Incumbent Alex Ramel is running for re-election to his 40th District seat; opposed by Trevor Smith.

Alex Ramel statement: Every $100 increase in rent results in 9% more homeless.
Score: True

In a 2020 study, researchers at the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that a $100 increase in median rent was associated with a 9% increase in the estimated homelessness rate. 

42nd Legislative District Position 1

Alicia Rule statement: She is the most bipartisan legislator in the legislature.
Score: True, depending on how “bipartisan is defined

The Family Policy Institute of Washington, a conservative Christian policy group, says that Rule voted the way they prefer 29% of the time, tied for the highest score for a Democratic representative. The environmental group Washington Conservation Voters say Rule voted the way they would like 33% of the time during the 2021-2022 session, making her the lowest-rated Democratic representative in the state house. 

Incumbent Alicia Rule, at left, and Tawsha Thompson are running for 42nd District Position 1.

Tawsha Thompson statement: Washington police reforms were based on incidents that didn’t even happen in Washington.
Score: Untrue

Washington state police reform in the 2021 legislative session was prompted by the killing of Manuel Ellis as he was being restrained by Tacoma police and repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe, and to standardize a patchwork of use of force and pursuit procedures in jurisdictions throughout the state. 

Alicia Rule statement: She did not vote for many of the police reform bills 
Score: Mostly untrue

Rule did vote in favor of most of the police reform bills in 2021; she voted for all of the bills modifying the reform bills in 2022.

42nd Legislative District Position 2

Dan Johnson, at left, and Joe Timmons are running for 42nd District Position 2.

• Dan Johnson statement: Washington gun control laws are the strictest in the land.
Score: Somewhat True

Washington state, according to  Everytown for Gun Safety, the firearm safety group formed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, has the ninth strictest gun safety laws in the United States. 

Joe Timmons statement: Rents went up 35% this year.
Score: True

A May Cascadia Daily News article reported that dozens of local renters responding to a social media request for tenant perspectives described rent increases of up to 60%, with most averaging 25% to 40%.

Dan Johnson statement: For every $1,000 added to the cost of a house, 2,100 people can’t afford to buy a house.
Score: True

The National Association of Home Builders produced a study in 2022, concluding that “each $1,000 increase in the cost of a new median-priced home price forces 2,182 Washington residents out of the housing market.”  

Dan Johnson statement: Washington is second only to California in drug overdose deaths.
Score: Untrue

According to the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, California’s death by overdose rate per 100,000 is 21.8 and Washington’s rate is 22.0; 25 states have higher rates. The lowest overdose mortality rate is South Dakota at 10.3 and the highest is West Virginia at 81.4. [Editor’s note: updated Oct. 10, 2022

Dan Johnson statement: There will be a 46-cent gas increase at the end of this year.
Score: Mostly untrue [Updated Oct. 24, 2022]

Washington state’s new tax on CO2 emissions is projected to add 46 cents to the cost of a gallon of gas as soon as next year. [Editor’s note: While the price is expected to go up, a Washington Department of Ecology spokesperson said the agency’s analysis does not confirm any exact price change, and that the 46 cents per gallon number was introduced by other groups.]

Reported by Mike Sato and Salish Current Staff

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