Sharon Wylie over the years has served as a lobbyist, as a government relations officer for Clark County, as an Oregon state representative, and now as representative from Washington's 49th legislative district. Some people who long for a shake-up in government might view that résumé as a negative, but that experience sets Wylie apart from her challengers in this summer's primary.
Wylie's understanding of the issues and her approach to finding solutions is markedly different from the other candidates for the 49th District's Position 1, and The Columbian recommends that she advance to the general election. As always, these are merely recommendations. We have faith in the ability of voters to examine the issues and to study the candidates. But Wylie, a Democrat, should be a clear choice over her challengers — Republican Anson Service and Scott Dalesandro, who lists no party preference.
Wylie voted against an $8.7 billion tax break for Boeing, which was approved last year during a special session of the Legislature, saying at the time that the bill was being pushed too hastily. When it comes to fully funding K-12 education, as mandated by the state Supreme Court, she advocates for sales tax on Internet products and mentions revenue from legalized marijuana sales as ways to generate money for the state.
Wylie also supports an increase to the minimum wage and does not support an oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. During this year's legislative session, she also supported a compromise that would eliminate a sales-tax exemption for Oregon shoppers in Clark County but would allow them to recoup their tax expenses after the fact.
That issue, more than any other, is what led Service to enter the race. He strongly supports the sales-tax exemption for Oregon shoppers who travel north, and he works to promote keeping Clark County shoppers in local stores. "I wanted to help people understand you can keep your money in Vancouver," he said.
But in other ways, Service's recommendations for dealing with issues fall short on insight and long on rhetoric. His suggestion for meeting the state's obligation for K-12 education amounts to a series of penny-ante cost-saving measures. In addition to likely falling well short of the need, estimated between $2 billion and $3 billion, Service couldn't answer Wylie's question, "What makes you think those things aren't being done?"
As for his overall view of state government, Service said, "We have a spending problem due to poor decision-making, which our Representatives have direct influence over." A lot of voters likely agree with that, but Service doesn't have the experience or understanding of how the Legislature works in order to make the necessary changes.
Dalesandro also brings some strong ideas to the race while lacking the necessary political acumen. "The right and left are extreme, and nobody seems to be representing the people in the middle," he said. "I don't like what I'm seeing. Our government seems to waste money left and right, and there's no accountability." In meeting with The Columbian's Editorial Board, he said, "There's always 10 percent more to take out of your budget." That math doesn't quite add up, as well-intentioned as it might be. In our opinion, Sharon Wylie is the only logical choice for representative from Position 1 in the 49th District.