Coffee With The Candidates: Ryan Gabriel Promises To Bring “Fiscal Sanity” to Olympia
The primary race for the open 36th Legislative District seat features five Democrats, one Progressive, and one Republican -- Ryan Gabriel. Despite sometimes being overlooked in a crowded field of challengers, Gabriel is running to represent the 36th in order to bring "fiscal sanity" to Olympia. He believes that his combination of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism is more in tune with the voters of the district than the "radical progressivism" of his opponents.
The Ballard News-Tribune conducted a phone interview with Gabriel while he was travelling for business. Gabriel works full-time as the regional manager for a financial services company and has lived in Belltown for the past 10 years. This is Gabriel’s first political campaign and he decided to run because he thought there should be at least one person in the race making the argument for fiscal conservatism.
"I would vote down every single tax increase that is put in front of me," he said. "(Washington State is) one of the only states that does not have a revenue problem. (Olympia) should not have a problem balancing the budget and living within our means."
When asked what makes him the most qualified candidate, Gabriel replied, "(I am) the most qualified on the basis we’re not balancing the budget. We have had an unbalanced budget for 4 years in a row in clear violation of the state constitution and billions in unfunded liabilities. My opponents are pushing for more spending and want to pay for these increases with more taxes, property taxes and income taxes for the state. I am the only candidate in opposition to this."
The other issue that motivates Gabriel is to ensure that Seattle taxpayers do not have to pay for all of the potential cost overruns on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Seawall Replacement projects, because it is a state transportation project, not a city. "It’s a state issue, and it would be unfair to stick it to the Seattle taxpayers."
Given the fact he entered the race fairly late and has a full-time job, Gabriel has not done any door-to-door campaigning. "Going door-to-door wasn’t something I was going to do unless there’s a possibility for traction, but if I make it into the general, I will."
Gabriel has the endorsement of the King County GOP and the 36th District Republicans. He has not sought nor received any endorsements from other politicians, but if he advances to the general election, he will reach out to other politicians, including even Greg Nickels. "Just for a shock."
Gabriel recently attended a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters despite reservations about the reception he would receive at such a "left-wing" event. When Gabriel told the audience that he is in favor of gay marriage, cannabis legalization and is OK with the current abortion compromise, he found that they were shocked and pleasantly surprised to hear it coming from a Republican. "(It) opened them up enough to make the case for fiscal responsibility," he said.
Gabriel has attended other campaign events and felt that they were "echo chambers" where his opponents talked about "who can spend the most amount of money in the least amount of time."
"If the 36th sends people like this to State Legislature, they will be ignored because they’re unrealistic," Gabriel warned. "Mary Lou Dickerson was well-respected, but none of these candidates will be respected by the Democrats in the State Legislature."
While some may question the chances of a Republican running in a district that leans heavily toward the Democratic Party, Gabriel believes that he has a chance to advance to the general election. Gabriel said that with so many candidates splitting the liberal and progressive vote, he can accomplish this by assembling a coalition of Republicans, independents and independent-minded Democrat voters, who he describes as "the people who lean in and whisper that they’re fiscal conservatives but could never vote for a Republican."
"It will be an uphill battle," Gabriel conceded, "but it would be a newsworthy item, and get people thinking again."