Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final installment in a series about the candidates vying to succeed Representative Kris Lytton in Washington’s 40th Legislative District.
We’re hours away from the conclusion of Washington’s 2018 Top Two election, which will determine candidates advance to November 2018 general election. In the 40th Legislative District alone, four dynamic Democratic candidates are vying for the spot Kris Lytton is retiring from after many years of service. The district includes San Juan County, as well as portions of Whatcom and Skagit Counties.
Today, we’ll meet Tom Pasma.
Pasma has a long history with the Democratic Party, serving sixteen years as an officer for the Washington State Democrats. His resume boasts many other volunteer service positions, including Volunteer Firefighter, Vice President of the Blanchard Edison Water Association, Board Member for the Skagit County Boys’ & Girls’ Club, as well as the Founder, President of his nonprofit, LEAD (Leadership, Education & Advanced Development).
“I have a history of getting legislation passed,” said Pasma in an interview with NPI over the weekend. “Everything I’ve ever done has been volunteer.”
As a volunteer, private citizen, Pasma spearheaded efforts to create a state program that fosters young farmers into environmentally sustainable agriculture practices. He was also involved in passing legislation that implemented current-use valuation programs for property taxes on agricultural land.
Pasma is also a volunteer auctioneer, helping to raise $100 million for nonprofits last year around the country.
He has done work with two different of Washington state’s governors.
In 2009, Governor Gregoire asked Pasma to take the lead on the Samish Watershed Initiative, which worked to clean up the watershed. In 2015, Governor Inslee awarded Pasma the Conservationist of the Year Award.
For work, Pasma has been in the agriculture business his entire life.
The same year he was awarded Conservationist of the Year, he hosted environmental and climate scientists at his farm, where they hoped to learn from its sustainable structure to potentially help others around the country.
In December, it will be his thirtieth year as a Washingtonian.
When asked what drew him here originally, Pasma said that it was “a guy named Ronald Reagan,” citing that during his term as president, there was loss of opportunity in his home state of Montana.“People move away from lack of opportunity and they move to opportunity… that’s what I did,” said Pasma.
When asked why he was inspired to run in the 40th District, Pasma said people all over the state asked him to run once the opening was announced.
“We have a lot of things we need to get done,” he explained.
“You need people that have some common sense and bipartisan support on ideas that show you can work across the aisle. I’ve never been a politician… We need people who are actually going to do something and have some kind of vision of where we want to go, how we’re going to get there, and be proactive about it.”
Should Pasma win, there are a number of key issues he hopes to focus on.
“Well, the first thing we need to do, is we need to fund our education system with a sustainable method. We have to make that investment… It’s the best investment you could ever make.” He says he’s also pushing hard for debt-free college, including for community colleges, technical and vocational schools.
Additionally, Pasma is a staunch supporter of green job development.
“If we’re truly committed to moving from a carbon-based economy to a green, sustainable economy, we have to have a superfund for workers,” said Pasma.
He cited the success of Superfund in cleaning up America’s most toxic waste dumps.
Pasma is also a proponent for universal healthcare and worked with the Obama administration to help encourage federal lawmakers across the region to vote in favor of the Patient Protection Act (PPA).
“[The PPA] totally transformed people’s lives all around this country. We could improve it and make it better, but we’re watching it get dismantled right now.” He hopes to make easily accessible universal healthcare a reality for Washingtonians.
Pasma believes that his strong background working to pass legislation, as well as his lengthy history of volunteer and public work will make him a successful representative for his district.
“People come to me with problems and I try to fix them. They know that I care about them,” said Pasma.
Washington State’s Top Two election ends tomorrow (August 7th, 2018), when ballots are due back. All ninety-eight positions in the State House of Representatives are being contested along with half of the Senate’s forty-nine positions. If you’re a Washington voter, be sure to get your ballot to a drop box by 8 PM on August 7th or to a post office that day by the last outgoing mail collection time.