Michelle Darnell is running for the 48th District’s House Position 1 as a Libertarian against Democratic incumbent Patty Kuderer. The Reporter caught up with Darnell to talk about her platform and what inspired her to run for office.
The 46-year-old paralegal said she wasn’t invested in politics until the housing market crash and recession in 2008, during which her ex-husband, who was a contractor, found himself out of work.
To pay the bills, he took work doing housing foreclosure assessments, an experience which Darnell said opened her eyes to the hardships the economic crisis was creating for homeowners, and everyone else.
“We were seeing house after house sitting empty,” she said. “I just realized that, oh, we have a huge problem and our legislators are not responsive.”
One of her biggest issues would be to repeal the state Deed of Trust, where a property title is transferred to a bank-appointed trustee. In order to fight this, the homeowner must sue the bank which puts the burden on the homeowner, Darnell said.
Homes being lost to the banks creates problems all the way down the housing chain, Darnell said, turning would-be homeowners into renters or even homeless.
“We’ve got to stop unnecessary foreclosures,” she said. “That’s why I’m running for office, and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing, because it’s wrong.”
Although she views income inequality as a major issue, she does not think raising the minimum wage to $15 would help. Instead, she said this would hurt many small businesses.
But she said she could support some raise in the minimum wage if it was offset by tax breaks for small business.
“We don’t want minimum wage jobs, even if they are at $15,” she said. “People don’t want minimum wage, they want the kind of jobs they had pre-recession.”
These jobs could be created, Darnell said, by reducing government regulations on the markets and freeing up the private sector. Affordable housing could also be encouraged by reducing red-tape for developers, she said.
On transportation issues, Darnell said she thinks the state Department of Transportation is mainly interested in getting people out of their cars. She thinks light rail will be obsolete by the time it comes to the Eastside as self-driving cars begin to emerge as a market force.
Her vision of education in the state would include giving every family a voucher for their student which could be used to send them to either a public, private or charter school.
On the national level, Darnell said both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton scare her and that the partisan gridlock seen in Washington D.C. has translated all the way down to local politics.
Political apathy is partially to blame, said Darnell.
“If we accept the blame, we are empowered and we can be the change we wish to see,” she said.
Darnell ran against Cyrus Habib in 2014 for the 48th District Senate seat. Despite never holding an elected office, she said her experience as a paralegal and business owner are more valuable than politicking experience.