Now that the boundaries of Washington's 7th Legislative District have been expanded to make it the largest and most rural voting jurisdiction in the state, Reps. Joel Kretz and Jacqueline Maycumber have an even bigger job ahead of them in trying to convey the needs of Eastside residents to a largely-Westside set of lawmakers.

"There's a lot of Seattle legislators who've never even been to Eastern Washington, much less understand our issues over here," says Kretz. "So a big part of our job is explaining the differences between east and west. And I've been really fortunate to make and maintain some really good relationships across the aisle with Westside representatives who are also Democrats."

The Republican Kretz says throughout his 18 years in the legislature he has consistently invited Westside lawmakers to his ranch in Wauconda to get a first-hand look at rural Eastern Washington and to discuss the variety of issues and challenges which set it apart from the rest of the state.

Fellow Republican Maycumber says communicating with legislators west of the Cascades is only part of the solution, and sometimes drawing a hard line with those who are unfamiliar with the state's east side is necessary.

"It's difficult to have people from the Puget Sound legislate places that they've never been or never spoken to anyone from that area. So it's having good communication and hearing what they need but also making sure they know that we're not their park or playground."

Maycumber, who is from the small town of Republic in Ferry County, is entering her second term representing the 7th District, while Kretz has two years remaining in his fourth.

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