Why are we electing a senator in 2017?

State senators are normally elected every four years. Our district re-elected Andy Hill in 2014 but after a battle with cancer, Senator Hill passed away last October. The Republican Party appointed Dino Rossi, our current senator, to temporarily fill his seat. Rossi will be stepping down at the end of 2017. This is a special election to select a senator to finish the term, which expires at the beginning of 2019. Though this election is only for a partial term, the stakes are particularly high because control of the senate is currently split. Of the 49 seats, 24 are held by Republicans, 24 are held by Democrats, and one is held by a Democrat, Tim Sheldon, who caucuses with the Republicans. This election will determine control of the senate, so both parties have a strong interest in winning.

There is no time when a campaign like ours is needed more than when the legislature is so divided. This campaign is about affirming that no matter what party we belong to, we ultimately all want the same thing. If a Democrat or Republican wins, one party will have a slight majority, but it won't do anything to heal the deep political divide. One party with an advantage can pass legislation, but you can bet the minority party will put all their efforts into slowing the process down. When the senate inevitably changes hands, whatever progress may have been achieved is likely to be rolled back. This repeating cycle means that lasting solutions are rare. Parker's campaign is about finding solutions that are agreeable to everyone. If elected, he will work to ensure that bills are passed to solve our state's problems in ways that appeal to both parties. Only then can issues be laid to rest and the legislature will be able to address new problems.

It's easy to ignore elections in off years. When we receive our primary ballots in July, it will be tempting to think "there's nothing going on in politics that I care about right now." We may just ignore it, leave it blank, or quickly fill it out by voting along party lines. But if we're going to achieve a much-needed change to our politics, we all must participate. So let's vote. Let's make sure that when our ballots arrive, we're ready to take a stand against partisan politics. Let's not vote for one of the parties that will continue to be locked in perpetual rivalry. A vote for Parker isn't a vote for one side in an endless battle. It's a vote for solutions. Let's make it happen.