It's Democrat vs. Democrat in 36th District race

Alice Woldt - a longtime Democratic Party activist and an anti-Iraq War resident of Ballard with a long record of supporting social causes - has challenged State Rep. and fellow Democrat Helen Sommers for her 36th District seat in the legislature.

Sommers has been in the legislature for 32 years and has rarely been challenged in that time, but Woldt thinks she has a shot at unseating the no-nonsense Magnolia resident.

However, speaking at a campaign kickoff event attended by around 200 people last week, Woldt conceded it will be a tough race, likening her challenge to the battle between St. George and the Dragon and the fight between David and Goliath.

She does have some allies, though.

According to her campaign manager, Katie Hewitt, Woldt has been endorsed by King County Council member Larry Gossett; State Rep. Maralyn Chase, D-32nd District; the Washington State Labor Council; the Health and Human Services political action committee; the Service Employee Union International; and the Office Professional Employees International Union.

"And there will be more and more [supporters] as people see it is time for change," Woldt said to an enthusiastic crowd at the Daybreak Star Center in Discovery Park.

Using "stand up" as a campaign mantra, the former chair of the King County Democratic Party said she would stand up for teachers in the state getting decent contracts and for children receiving a solid education. But Woldt doesn't support charter schools, something that Sommers has, Woldt said.

Woldt also said she would stand up for African Americans who can't find housing because of redlining, for American Indians who have been stereotyped with school mascot names, for the mentally ill and the disabled, and for the poor.

"I've been standing up for peace in every way possible," she added. As acting executive director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle for two and a half years, Woldt said, she helped organize a major anti-Iraq War demonstration in Seattle. Currently, she serves as the executive director the Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone.

Woldt also said she is against tax breaks for corporations like Boeing and against cuts to human services that have gone into effect the past couple of years. She also slammed the state's sales tax as being regressive. "We will need to stand up for a state income tax," Woldt said.

According to Woldt, Sommers has lost touch with the progressive politics in the 36th District, which covers Magnolia, Queen Anne, Ballard and parts of downtown.

"I just thought it was time someone in a very Democratic district stood up for change," Woldt said in a later telephone interview.

Sommers will kick off her campaign on June 15 at McCormick & Schmick's on Westlake Avenue North, and she and Woldt will face off in the Sept. 14 primary.

The primary vote will decide the race since Sommers has no Republican challengers this year.

News reporter Russ Zabel may be reached at or 461-1309.

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