New candidates Litzow, Maxwell vie for empty House seat
October 7, 2008
By Jim Feehan
As a Mercer Island City Councilman, Steve Litzow deals with residents who want dog leash laws, citizens chomping at the bit to have a stop light in their neighborhood and the island’s ever-burgeoning raccoon problem. An elderly woman who lives near Litzow has been calling for bold action against the pesky varmints.
“We’ve got to be able to kill raccoons,” the woman told him.
The city didn’t declare open season on raccoons, but did allow licensed trappers to come onto the island to eradicate them.
Litzow, a Republican, was first elected to the City Council in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. When he heard that Fred Jarrett was leaving his house seat to run for the senate, Litzow decided to run for the open seat in the 41st Legislative District.
“We are at the tipping point at becoming a super region,” Litzow said, regarding the Eastside and its major employers: Microsoft, Costco and McCaw Cellular.
“But we’re dealing with an infrastructure that’s 50 years old,” he said. “We need a transportation system that will be able to handle another 1.5 million people in the region in the next 30 years.”
Building a bus rapid transit system would be the most cost-effective way to move people in the region and reduce greenhouse gases by 50 percent, he said.
“We’ve got to get people in the habit of riding buses,” he said. “All too often, I hear people say they would take the bus if service was available in their area.”
Changing consumer habits when it comes to using mass transit is possible. Litzow used the example of the public’s acceptance of not smoking in bars.
“Twenty years ago, that would have been unthinkable,” he said.
Litzow grew up in Elk Grove, a suburb of Milwaukee. From an early age, Litzow aspired to run his own business.
After graduating from Northwestern University, he worked as an executive for Procter & Gamble, CompuServe Inc. and Bellevue-based ShareBuilder, an online brokerage business. He was also a CEO of Xpensewise, a venture-backed technology startup. Litzow currently works as a management consultant for EMM Group Inc.
Educating the workforce for 21st century jobs is crucial for the state’s economy, he said.
“According to the state constitution, it is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children,” he said. “It should be the No. 1 priority of the Legislature.”
He said the state’s teaching requirements are too stringent and do not allow experts in the field to teach in the classroom.
As for dealing with a possible $2.7 billion budget deficit, Litzow said the figure is not that daunting. The state’s operating budget of $33.4 billion increased $8 billion in the past four years.
“I believe you can cut $2.7 billion in those $8 billion,” he said. “After all, you’re cutting increases from years ago.”
The King County Municipal League has ranked Litzow as a “very good” candidate for the position. The league is a nonpartisan association that conducts the equivalent of job interviews with candidates in King County and rates them on their capacity to serve effectively.
Education, transportation and economic development are interconnected and vital to the residents of the 41st Legislative District, according to Marcie Maxwell.
“We’re using an antiquated system from the 1970s for funding schools,” said Maxwell, a Democrat, who is seeking the open House seat vacated by Fred Jarrett when he opted to run for state Senate.
“We need to prepare students for jobs now for the future, and they need to be able to compete globally,” she said.
A lifelong resident of Seattle and later Renton, Maxwell has been a Realtor with Windermere Real Estate for the past 18 years. She’s been elected to two terms on the Renton School Board. She has also served as chairman of the Renton Chamber of Commerce and is the president of the Renton Rotary. She’s also a founding board member of the Kennydale Neighborhood Association.
Maxwell has been recognized as Renton’s “Citizen of the Year” and given the “Outstanding Business Citizen Award.” She is a founding board member of the Renton Community Foundation, as well as a personal donor and grant advisor for the foundation’s Maxwell Fund for Youth & Families.
She has been active in many campaigns supporting public schools and serves as legislative representative for King County school boards with the Washington State School Directors’ Association.
“My track record speaks of two decades of community building, education and business advocacy,” she said. “I would bring those leadership skills and good business background to the Legislature.”
Transportation will continue to be an important issue for residents of the 41st District and other Eastside communities, Maxwell said.
The state needs to accommodate the region’s population growth when it comes to highways, especially the Interstate 405 corridor. One way to accomplish that is to increase bus service on the Eastside, she said.
“We need to improve those offerings, so commuters and workers will use the public transit system,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell said the region’s employers are demanding that the state reduce traffic congestion in the central Puget Sound region.
“It’s time to move forward to ensure that the 520 bridge is built within the state’s means and without delay,” she said.
Maxwell grew up in the Leschi and Rainier Valley neighborhoods of Seattle. She graduated from Rainier Beach High School and Highline Community College in Des Moines. She worked in the banking industry before selling real estate.
Her husband, Steve Maxwell, retired last year after 29 years as a deputy with the King County Sheriff’s Office. He worked as a contract police officer in Newcastle, was a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer at Apollo and Hazelwood elementary schools and worked out of the Four Creeks storefront office near Liberty High School.
“The 41st District is very focused on local and regional issues especially creating jobs, reducing traffic congestion and improving public schools,” Maxwell said. “These priorities match my priorities I will work for in Olympia.”
The King County Municipal League has ranked Maxwell as a “good” candidate for the position. The league is a nonpartisan association that conducts the equivalent of job interviews with candidates in King County and rates them on their capacity to serve effectively.