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Gig Harbor Democrat challenges McMahan for seat

Rep. Lois McMahan will have some competition this November.

McMahan, R-Olalla, is being challenged by a Gig Harbor man for her state House of Representatives seat. Derek Kilmer, a Democrat, last week announced his intention to run against McMahan in the fall.

In his press release, he said he believed McMahan wasn’t doing enough to get the state economy moving again.

“As someone who is working every day to create and sustain jobs in our area, it’s clear that we need a new voice in Olympia,” Kilmer said.

Kilmer, 30, was born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula and holds a doctoral degree in economic development policy from the University of Oxford in England and a bachelors’ degree in public policy from Princeton University.

Kilmer serves as the business retention manager for the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County, serves on the board of the Gig Harbor-Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce and was appointed by Gov. Gary Locke to serve as a trustee on the Board of Tacoma Community College.

He also currently serves as the vice chair of Communities in Schools of Peninsula, a nonprofit organization focused on helping schoolkids on the Key Peninsula.

Kilmer said he has never before run for public office, but sees this as a good time to do so.

“I really do think that Washington state is at a critical point when it comes to getting the economy moving again,” Kilmer said. “I feel our current leadership has not focused enough energy on those priorities”

Kilmer’s platform will focus on increasing the availability of high-wage jobs, improving the area’s schools and finding transportation solutions that “support job growth while being fair to the people of our region.”

McMahan is no stranger to stiff competition. In 2002, she wrested the seat — formally known as 26th District Representative, Position 2 — away from incumbent Democrat Brock Jackley. Jackley, who has not announced any intention of trying to reclaim the seat, has already endorsed Kilmer for the spot.

McMahan said she and Kilmer know each other as acquaintances and suggested she expected the forthcoming competition to be a well-mannered one.

“He came up to me at a (Rotary) event Saturday night and said: ‘I’m sorry, it’s nothing personal,’ ” McMahan said.

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