In the race for representative from the 18th Legislative District, Position 2, The Columbian recommends a vote for incumbent Liz Pike. But we have many reservations.
Pike, a Camas Republican, is running for re-election against Democrat Maureen Winningham. Pike has appeared to effectively represent her district, and in 2012 she was elected with 60 percent of the vote. Yet we can’t help but feel that she could be more effective if not for a habit of putting her foot in her mouth and a penchant for pandering to other conservative politicians at the expense of nuance and thoughtfulness. Consider:
• Last year, Pike incensed many educators with a critical Facebook post. She has acknowledged that the post was insensitive and has met with teachers, but the inelegance of her statements was unbecoming a state representative.
• Pike was an elected freeholder on the committee that devised a proposed Clark County charter. After going through the process, she ended up voting against the final proposal, and now has become an outspoken critic. On her Facebook page, she promoted a discussion “between conservative, freedom-loving residents like me and those who seek to silence the citizens.” It was unclear whether Pike believes those who support the charter do not love freedom, but her presentation was unsophisticated. In the same post, Pike referred to charter supporter Betty Sue Morris as B.S. Morris, demonstrating a sophomoric crudeness that fails to advance the discussion.
• And Pike has seized upon the Republican mantra of “fund education first” without indicating that she understands the nuances. During a forum with The Columbian’s Editorial Board, she was asked five times about which programs should get cut or whether taxes need to be raised in order to fund education, and the responses were a series of monologues that failed to answer the questions (see video at http://tinyurl.com/mnbnwud).
In short, Pike demonstrates little ability or interest in seeking out gray area on the issues, too often adhering to ideological positions that pander to constituents but fail to reflect an understanding of the issues. That might be what the voters of the 18th District desire, but Pike would better serve her constituents if she could learn to deliver her message without thumbing her nose at those who disagree.
That being said, The Columbian tepidly recommends a vote for Pike in her race against Winningham. As always, this is merely a suggestion; we trust in the electorate’s ability to examine the issues and the candidates before making an informed decision.
In this election, we feel that Pike better represents the opinions and desires of her constituents, even if her style is not always smooth. Her meeting with Winningham in front of the Editorial Board was marked by condescension on the part of Pike, who several times belittled her opponent by saying, “Bless her heart.” Winningham, for her part, was excessively combative toward Pike and was overly aggressive in making her points while failing to present a case why she is the superior candidate.
And Pike does have many attributes that benefit her district. She is an unabashed conservative, opposed the Columbia River Crossing and fights against regulations that she says encumber businesses. When the CRC proposal met its demise, she spearheaded an effort to bring together legislators from Washington and Oregon to discuss the future of transportation. Still, at some point, Pike will need to recognize that governing requires more than churlish talking points.