Tom Dent is running to hold his current Legislative District 13 Position 1 seat.
If elected for his fourth term as state representative, Dent said he wants to focus on areas in aviation infrastructure, environmental issues and childcare.
Finding long-term funding for aviation infrastructure is a priority, he said, because Washington state is a major aerospace state and it is about a $100 billion a year industry.
A lot of Dent’s goals center on issues related to his committee work. Dent is on three legislative committees.
On the Human Services and Early Learning Committee, he is the ranking member and wants to focus his term on childcare support and making childcare facilities financially viable. This is especially important in order to help working parents and reopen the economy during this pandemic, Dent said. There is too big of a regulatory burden on childcare providers, he said, and he wants to push to lighten that burden.
“I believe children are our legacy, our future, and it’s really important that we look to support them,” he said.
Mental health support and de-stigmatization is also an area Dent feels passionately about.
As assistant ranking member of the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, he hopes to continue putting together a program for rural fire protection. Similar to a fire protection association in Oregon, Dent has been working on legislation that would allow citizens to form local groups that would respond to wildfires to be the initial attack and could be a resource and support for fire agencies. The local groups would be required to have adequate personal protection equipment, basic training on fire suppression and communication equipment.
Dent said President John F. Kennedy’s statement “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” motivated him to want to make a difference, and he came to the realization that public figures such as legislators are just people with a passion. He had a passion for politics and to serve people in any capacity he could. Dent wants to continue to serve and said: “I’m just in a position that I know that I can continue to do good things.”
The biggest challenge as a state representative is working across the aisle, Dent said. “I work well with the other side because I respect them as people,” he added.
Dent said that there are challenges working within your own caucus or party as well, but that it comes down to realizing that you have more in common with people than you don’t.
Dent said that his experience in the position and understanding of the expectations of the position are important qualifications for him to continue to be District 13’s state representative.