In last month’s Top Two election, Democrats in Washington State surprised Republicans and many in the media by demonstrating that they’re in a position to not only hold onto their gains from the 2018 midterms, but have real opportunities to pick up seats they didn’t win four or two years ago.
One of those is in the newly redrawn 10th Legislative District — a slice of the state so closely divided it supported Joe Biden for President and Loren Culp for Governor in 2020. While the 10th has only voted for a Democratic candidate for House twice since 2012 (State Representative Dave Paul, in 2018 and 2020), Clyde Shavers’ performance in the Top Two suggests this year may be different.
Exactly 2,000 votes separated the candidates at certification.
The 10th Legislative District encompasses the entirety of Island County and portions of northwest Snohomish County and southwest Skagit County.
Notable cities in the district include Oak Harbor, Mount Vernon, Coupeville, and Langley. As mentioned, Republicans have won each of the district’s state House elections since 2012 except for two. In 2018, and again in 2020, Democratic Representative Dave Paul won the election for Position #2. Paul was able to secure a comfortable majority of votes again in last month’s Top Two election.
Shavers, a Navy veteran and environmental lawyer, is vying for the 10th District’s other seat against Gilday, who is seeking another term in office.
I had the opportunity to speak with Shavers last week to learn more about his legislative priorities and vision for representing the 10th Legislative District.
Shavers firmly believes that “running for office, whether it’s local or federal, should not be the first entry to public service. It should be a continuation of…. that individual’s lifelong dedication.”
From “the moment [I] left high school, [I] was all about what can I do for the greater good… where I was fortunate to serve in the Navy… for about eight years.”
He explains that his drive and dedication to others comes from his family background. “My dad served in the U.S. Marines and after that he served as a police officer… I am from a family of teachers and police officers, sheriffs and nurses.”
Additionally, “serving under three Presidents, from President Obama, and Trump, and Biden while in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, really kind of, to me, defined the importance of good politics… politics that is all about the people.”
When asked about his legislative priorities, Shavers first offered a robust defense of reproductive rights, which the United States Supreme Court has been gutting.
“Our campaign is all about this right, this freedom,” he said. “The overturning of Roe v. Wade is un-American, and I think it really shows to us that access to abortions and preventative and prenatal care is always on the ballot.” He stressed that he is “the only pro-choice candidate running for this position.”
The next issue Shavers identified as a priority was affordable housing.
He emphasized that his priorities are informed by his life experiences. “Affordable housing is very personal for me. I am on the board for a homeless shelter called Skagit Friendship House in Mount Vernon and I thought to myself, Serving on the board is not enough, I need to volunteer… so, every week I cook food, and serve food, and I have this unique opportunity to sit down with these residents and understand their life stories, see how I can help them and hopefully, in the state Legislature, provide the resources and services that would benefit everyone.”
Another priority for Shavers is environmental protection.
“I graduated from Yale Law School, after serving in the Navy, and I studied environmental law. During that time I worked with a group called the Natural Resources Defense Council… it allowed me to understand the seriousness of environmental issues that permeate not just locally, but across the globe and the U.S.” Furthermore, he said that as a young person (thirty-one years of age) he personally understands the urgency of climate justice.
Shavers is also passionate about education.
“Ensuring that every child in every zip code has good and tailored educational resources. My fiancé is a special education teacher… through her, I have experienced the importance of ensuring schools across the district… have adequate resources to ensure that every child is successful.”
The final legislative priority we discussed is access to healthcare.
“This means lowering prescription drug costs,” Shavers said. “That means that everybody, old and young, have access to good healthcare.” He also cited the need to ensure healthcare for veterans. “Island County has more veterans per capita than any other county in Washington State. We have a lot of retired veterans who need healthcare access. This is a very personal issue to me.”
When asked about how he hopes to make progress on intransigent issues, such as affordable housing and healthcare, if he is elected, Shavers referenced his experience with the nonprofit Goosefoot. “What we are realizing is that there are a lot of barriers and obstacles to actually building affordable housing. My hope in the state Legislature is to break down these barriers, break down these obstacles, and incentivize nonprofits… to be able to build these affordable facilities.”
Throughout the interview, Shavers told me that his campaign is focused on representing everyone in the district and ensuring that everyone’s voices are heard in Olympia. “My belief is that there are people here at home who feel lost and forgotten. My responsibility is to stand in front of them and say ‘I am here for you, I am listening’. Our campaign is about capturing all of our stories into a combined narrative so that when I am in Olympia, their voices are heard.”
The final message that Shavers shared was that he “want[s] to impress upon people in my district and people in Washington state that this election is very important. It’s especially important because women’s rights [are] under assault.”
“I hope that this message is received by people across the state and that they are energized to take part in active democracy.”
The 2022 general election will conclude in just under two months on Tuesday, November 8th. The contest in the 10th will likely be one of the closest races in the state. If you would like to learn more about Clyde Shavers’ campaign, you can find more information on his campaign website. Shavers’ opponent, Republican incumbent Greg Gilday, also has a campaign website, which you’ll find here.