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March 20, 2023

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18th District candidates a study in contrasts

Pike, Winningham share views in editorial board meeting

By , Columbian Political Writer
2 Photos
Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, and her Democratic challenger Maureen Winningham sat down with The Columbian's editorial board on Tuesday. Photo Gallery

Maureen Winningham, the Vancouver Democrat challenging Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, for the 18th Legislative District, Position 2 seat, says the two candidates have some similarities.

“We both do love Clark County. We’re both moms who are very interested in the success of our children. We both love art, we’re both patriotic, and we were both raised in the same faith that has taught us to know love and serve God,” Winningham told The Columbian’s editorial board on Tuesday.

But it became clear, in the wide-ranging interview, the similarities mainly end there. Ideologically, the two candidates vying to represent the district in Olympia presented some stark contrasts.

Here’s where they stand on some of today’s hottest topics:

On whether taxes should be increased to fund the state Supreme Court’s mandate to adequately fund the state’s public schools, Pike, was against a tax increase while Winningham appeared more open to the idea. Pike believes the answers are in reducing regulations on businesses, to allow for the creation of more jobs and business, which would boost revenue for schools.

Winningham pointed to an idea by Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, to push for a sales tax on Internet products.

Both believe the Legislature should heed the Supreme Court’s mandate.

Pike also noted the state needs a better “culture of helpfulness.”

“State government is oppressive,” she said. “The front line workers, in some cases, are borderline rude and not helpful, and that is just a bad culture of government service.”

Winningham disagreed. She said that just the night before, the two candidates were both speaking with the Washington state employees union in hopes of winning their endorsement.

“That’s really unfair to brush public employees with the broad brushstroke of they are all ineffective and they all have bad customer service,” Winningham said.

Turning their focus to the congestion over the Interstate 5 Bridge, Pike said it was time to consider all new crossings, from those on the west side, to the east side and perhaps a tunnel under the river. She points to her role in creating the Bi-State Bridge Coalition, noting that it has “made progress toward building trusts and relationships,” which she said was lost during the Columbia River Crossing process.

Winningham said the focus should remain on replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, calling everything else “a shiny light to distract us from the core issue.”

When it comes to the county’s home-rule charter, Pike, who is a freeholder, said she could not support the charter because it moved too much authority from “duly elected citizens” and put it in the hands of “unelected bureaucrats.”

Pike plans to vote against a November measure expanding background checks for gun owners, while Winningham is a proponent of the idea.

The Democrat said Vancouver’s proposed oil-by-rail transfer terminal would make the county a “national security risk.” It’s dangerous, she said, to have the most combustible form of oil products so near a densely populated city. Pike, on the other hand, said the oil trains carrying crude will be traveling through the county even if the terminal is never built. Either the jobs will land in the region, Pike said, or in the worst-case scenario, they bypass the state for Canada.

Columbian Political Writer