Goodman and Nixon tackle character, issues

Vying for the chance to represent local residents from the state’s 45th Legislative District, both former Rep. Toby Nixon (R-Kirkland) and current Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) are hoping they’ll get the majority of voters to agree with their re-election to Olympia.

Vying for the chance to represent local residents from the state’s 45th Legislative District, both former Rep. Toby Nixon (R-Kirkland) and current Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) are hoping they’ll get the majority of voters to agree with their re-election to Olympia.

If political commentary and the results of the Aug. 19 state primary election are any indication, this race will go down to the wire. About half the number of voters from the 2006 general election cast ballots in this year’s top-two primary where Goodman came out ahead by only 280 votes. With state republicans targeting the 45th District as one of their two best chances to pick up seats in the Legislature, the candidates have been working overtime to capture the rest of the voters on Nov. 4.

Both Goodman, 47 and Nixon, 49, stopped by the Kirkland Reporter to answer questions on issues, character and current events — including the emerging worldwide financial crisis.

Getting their start

The politics bug, it seems, bit both candidates early. Nixon recalled his 7th Grade civics teacher, a Mrs. Edelman, required the class to memorize the entire national anthem, several sections of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

“I decided right then that I wanted to be involved,” he said. “I ran for class treasurer and lost — the first of many times I’ve lost in my life. But you’ve got to be persistent.”

Goodman remembered as far back as 4th grade when he was elected class president.

“My father was a professor of Political Science, so there was always interest in politics in our home,” Goodman said. “We’d talk about nuclear deterrence around the dinner table. That was dad’s specialty.”

Current Events

Handed a copy of the Seattle Times newspaper on the day the interviews were conducted, Oct. 2nd, both candidates were asked, what “Of all the news sections in this paper, which single story concerns you the most?” Both men pointed to the same story: The planned $700 billion federal bailout of the national banking system.

Nixon: “I’m concerned about nationalizing home mortgages. This reaches back to the Community Reinvestment Act, marginally qualified buyers … and failing to exercise adequate oversight. I’m also concerned with giving these institutions hundreds of billions of dollars without any real consequences — It just encourages more bad behavior.”

Goodman: “We may be on the verge of bailing out irresponsible executives … I hope the (U.S. House of Representatives) revisits this once again … Writing a blank check is incredible, it’s irresponsible and it doesn’t take care of the problem.”


Both men are well versed in legal opinion and have each written a dozen pieces of legislation later passed into law. A manager at Microsoft, Nixon was representative of the 45th District from 2002 to 2007. He also serves as a board member on several community-interest organizations, including First Amendment advocacy group Washington Coalition for Open Government, winning a number of awards relating to that organization’s advocacy (Full Disclosure: In his role as president of the Coalition for Open Government, Nixon has advised the Kirkland Reporter on background for legal issues relating to open government. Reporting on the primary election necessitated ending the relationship out of concern regarding the appearance of bias.) Goodman has a long record in legal work as a legislative aide in Washington D.C. after a short term as an attorney in commercial law. He specifically cited training with Environmental Protection Agency lawyers as giving him a strong background in Environmental law and work on the Clean Air Act of 1990. Locally, Goodman served as president of the Lakeview Community association and has volunteered his time as an attorney with the Eastside Legal Clinic.


While Nixon has served longer in state government and crafted more legislation, Goodman has seen nearly as much of his work actually passed into law.

Goodman said 13 laws he authored had been passed into law, proof that he was an effective legislator.

“I won’t introduce a bill that I know won’t pass,” he said.

Nixon disagreed.

“Olympia is all about solving problems, not just looking ahead to the next election,” Nixon said. “You can get a lot done if you don’t care about getting credit.”

Republicans have been in the minority in the state House of Representatives since 2002. Nixon points to his work on House committees on accountability, technology and transportation. Goodman said it’s likely, if re-elected, that he would be appointed chair of the House Judiciary Committee.


Both Goodman and Nixon are opposed to Sound Transit Authority’s Proposition 1 measure on the November ballot. For Goodman, the timing of the measure couldn’t be worse.

“We can’t afford light-rail right now,” he said. “That’s an extraordinary amount of money we must raise to pay for a limited benefit. We need traffic congestion relief now.”

Nixon agreed wholeheartedly.

“We need to finish work on major highways and increase capacity on arterials like Highway 202 and the Woodinville-Duval Road,” Nixon said. “If we increase rapid transit, it should be for buses … for on-demand, point-to-point services — like Microsoft is doing.”

Minimum Wage

In one of the few differences identified between the two candidates, minimum wage provided a clear difference: Nixon favored a return to what he called an “entry wage” and shouldn’t punish businesses. He said the highest minimum wage in the country actually makes it more difficult for low-skilled workers to find employment.

“You don’t help people to success by cutting out the bottom rungs.” Goodman disagreed and challenged his opponent to come up with proof the indexed rate, currently at $8.07/hour and rising next year, hurts businesses.

“There’s no evidence the minimum wage stunts economic growth or causes businesses to close,” he said. “You still can’t raise a family on it. We must take care of working families in this state.”

Personal Challenges

Both men agreed on the primary roles their own families played in their professional lives, but with slightly different view points. Nixon said managing his time was the greatest challenge he faced with his large family of five children, combined with his numerous responsibilities on the various boards, church groups, and work — never mind running a campaign for public office. Goodman, after a brief moment of hesitation, conceded that his wife and his marriage were the first to come to his mind.

“It’s politics at its most difficult,” he said. “I learned a lot about respect, honesty and commitment. It really forces you to hold a mirror to yourself. If you make that commitment, it’s rewarding in the end. And when I make a commitment, I stick with it.”