What makes Al run?
Alvin Rutledge is the ultimate perennial candidate. Every two years, when there is an Edmonds City Council election, you can pretty much expect Rutledge will be on the ballot.
He hasn’t won yet, but he always finds the silver lining in his defeats, such as pointing to the number of votes he garnered despite being the underdog.
This year, however, Rutledge has set his sights higher, announcing his candidacy for the state House of Representatives’ 32nd District position 2.
Running on the Republican ticket, Rutledge will be taking on Democratic incumbent Ruth Kagi, who has been serving in the House since 1999.
The 32nd includes parts of Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline and North Seattle.
Although running as a Republican, Rutledge doesn’t easily fit in either major party.
In fact, he said he doesn’t vote party lines himself.
“I can go both ways on party,” Rutledge said. “I vote for the person.”
Perhaps the main reason he runs for any office is his belief that no one should run unopposed.
Whenever he saw that a City Council candidate appeared to be running unopposed, Rutledge would throw his hat in the ring.
He is puzzled by how many people step up to fill an unexpected vacancy between elections, yet how few are willing to run for office.
“Anywhere from 16 to 20 people apply for open seats, but when it’s time to run, they disappear,” he said.
In the 32nd race, so far he is the only announced candidate to take on Rep. Kagi.
While he is complimentary of her years in office, Rutledge said, “The Democrats have been in there 30 years. I thought it was time for a change.”
He professes an interest in a broad range of issues. Among them are the Affordable Care Act, term limits, coal trains, King County jails, Point Wells development, minimum wage and same sex marriage.
On some issues, he is reluctant to take a stand. A life-long Catholic, he declined, for instance, to state his position on same sex marriage until he heard his parish’s official position.
On other issues, he is unequivocal.
He believes in term limits, suggesting eight years in the House would be a fair maximum.
He also believes government should limit the number of coal trains permitted to pass through Puget Sound.
And while he said people should be able to buy health insurance, he isn’t sure the ACA is the right vehicle.
Rutledge said he would propose legislation immediately on at least two issues if elected.
One of his first acts would be sponsorship of a bill to financially assist veterans who were wounded in the line of duty.
He proposes a “1% for wounded warriors” bill similar to Seattle’s “1% for art” ordinance that required construction projects to include 1 percent of the cost of the project to be set aside for art.
He said the Seattle ordinance generated between $300,000 and $500,000 per year for art. His statewide bill for veterans would generate even more, he said.
Rutledge also would sponsor a bill to strengthen the right of people to recall officeholders, “not only for cause as currently written, but also for incompetence or lawbreaking offenses,” he said.
A retired small business owner who operated his own retail/delivery company, Rutledge is one of the most active volunteers in Edmonds.
A Washington native, he moved to the Lake Ballinger neighborhood in 1986 and immediately dove into community service.
His volunteerism over the years has included: youth club baseball; Brightwater citizens committee; community car show; Eagle member, precinct officer; Lions Sight, Hearing, Kidney Foundation; Edmonds School District Round Table; Edmonds Food Bank; Kiwanis; and the “Save Our Log Cabin” committee. The list, in fact, is much longer.
A life-long bachelor, the 73-year-old Rutledge said he’ll conduct a “low key” campaign, with an emphasis on getting his name better known in King County where he has been less active.
Although he declined to estimate how much he’ll spend on his campaign, he said he’ll work hard to win the primary if other candidates step forward, and the general election after that.
“I’m not taking it for granted,” he said.