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Oct. 24, 2021

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In Our View: Harris for Position 1 in 17th District

Democrat has stronger positions on key issues than Republican incumbent

The Columbian

For most voters in the 17th Legislative District, the choice for state representative, Position 1, will be relatively easy. Democrat Tanisha Harris and Republican incumbent Vicki Kraft are strong candidates who offer sharp contrasts in ideology.

But for voters who do not lean strongly one way or another, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends a vote for Harris. As always, this is merely a recommendation; our guess is that most voters will have a firm preference for one candidate or the other. We encourage voters to examine the differences between the candidates, as demonstrated during an interview with the editorial board.

Harris, the Democrat, is a court-appointed special advocate for YWCA of Clark County, supporting children in the foster care system. She spent 10 years working for Evergreen Public Schools in the field of multicultural and diversity education and has a long history of community involvement. Most recently, she co-chaired a campaign that helped pass a $695 million facilities bond in the Evergreen district.

On her website, Harris writes: “With everything going on nationally, it’s time to put aside extreme ideologies and talking points and focus on what matters most to us — good, safe schools for our kids, roads and infrastructure that gets us where we need to go, and an economy that works for all families.”

Harris favors replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge before considering additional river crossings; says “climate change is real” and is a call to action by the state; and says “we do need to reassess the gun culture in the country” while adding that she likely would be receptive to a ban on assault weapons.

Kraft, the Republican, is seeking her second term in the Legislature. She has worked for companies such as Dell, Pillsbury and Frigidaire, as well as small businesses. Prior to running for office, she served as advancement director in Southwest Washington for the Freedom Foundation. In the Legislature, she has focused upon reducing regulations and business taxes. Notably, she was the only member of the Southwest Washington delegation to vote against Senate Bill 6617, a controversial measure that would have diminished legislative transparency and was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee following public outcry.

Kraft supports more crossings across the Columbia River, says she is unconvinced about the science surrounding climate change, and opposes gun-control measures. “I’m going to stand to protect those Second Amendment rights along with every other right that people have in the Constitution,” she said.

The race likely will be competitive. Harris received 44 percent of the vote in the primary while a third candidate, a Democrat, received 7 percent; Kraft earned 49 percent. While both candidates could effectively represent the 17th District — which covers east Vancouver and the area to the north, including part of Battle Ground — the editorial board believes Harris holds stronger positions on several issues.

One is her focus on replacing the I-5 Bridge before considering additional crossings. Another is Kraft’s dismissal of climate change; while The Columbian opposes Initiative 1631 on the ballot, we recognize the need for the Legislature to address carbon emissions rather than questioning the well-established science behind the issue. At the same time, Harris is willing to break from ideological orthodoxy; for example, she opposes a state income tax.

The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Tanisha Harris for state representative from the 17th Legislative District, Position 1.