Clyde Shavers serving on a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission
Clyde Shavers serving on a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission

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.

Shavers received a major­i­ty of the vote (51.91%) in the Top Two, sur­pass­ing Repub­li­can incum­bent Greg Gil­day, who received 47.94% of the vote.

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.”

Clyde Shavers
Clyde Shavers (Cam­paign photo)

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.

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