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Inside Olympia – First-Term Legislators

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April 8, 2021

Host Austin Jenkins sits down for an in-depth interview with two first-term Republican representatives, Peter Abbarno of Centralia and Mark Klicker of Walla Walla.

Abbarno grew up in Buffalo, New York, and got involved in what he calls the “bare-knuckle” politics of the state. He attended law school in Vermont, served as a King County deputy prosecuting attorney, and now is a private attorney in Centralia, where he previously served on the city council.

Klicker is from Walla Walla, where his family arrived in 1861 and has been heavily involved in farming, and the community, ever since. He worked for the Washington Farm Bureau and was involved in a landmark effort that brought together government, environmentalists, businesses and farmers to develop a collaborative solution to Walla Walla water issues.

It’s an interesting session to be a first-time legislator. Because the session is being conducted largely virtual due to COVID, both Abbarno and Klicker are legislating from home, and have not met most of their colleagues face to face. At the same time, they see how a virtual environment has made it easier, for instance, for people to testify in Olympia without being physically present at the State Capitol.

Both legislators give their thoughts on the urban-rural divide in Washington, and how to work across the aisle with majority Democrats. Issues discussed include the state budget and taxes, rural broadband, police reform and accountability — and much more.