Voters in the 18th District have two solid candidates to choose from as they consider how to fill an open seat in the Legislature. The Columbian’s Editorial Board believes Democrat Kathy Gillespie is the superior candidate for state representative, position 2, and recommends her for the job.
As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to generate discussion as constituents vote to replace Republican Liz Pike, who did not seek re-election. In considering Gillespie and Republican Larry Hoff, voters will find strong challengers who have distinct differences in their political views. Those differences were on display during an interview with the editorial board.
In the end, we believe Gillespie is a more forward-thinking candidate who has a clearer vision for the future of Southwest Washington. She also has the diplomatic skills to bring that vision to fruition. For example, when asked about the issue of gun violence, Gillespie said, “From my point of view, we want to honor the rights of Washington citizens to own guns. And we want to honor my right to come to my place of business, my house of worship, the movie theater, my school and come home in one piece at the end of that day.” She said she supports Initiative 1639, a gun-control measure on the ballot.
Gillespie spent eight years on the board of directors for Vancouver Public Schools, helping to shepherd a district that has been recognized for its innovation. That experience provides her with crucial insight as the state assesses newly passed changes to state funding for schools. While the Legislature met the mandate of the McCleary court decision, it is likely that intricate tweaks to funding will be necessary to ensure the new law works for the benefit of students throughout the state.
Gillespie also demonstrates an understanding of climate change and its current and future impact on the state, indicating that the Legislature must address the issue. But she said she does not support Initiative 1631 on the November ballot, arguing that it would create an overly complicated bureaucracy.
That represents one of the primary differences between Gillespie and Hoff, who said, “I think the climate is changing regularly, and I think God has a lot to do with that.” He added, “I would imagine there are implications from the human side” but said that statewide efforts to reduce carbon emissions would have little global impact.
When asked about gun violence, Hoff said, “I don’t think guns make the violence,” and he advocated for the “hardening” of schools to help prevent school shootings.
Regarding transportation issues, Gillespie stresses that the Interstate 5 corridor should be the priority and that discussions about a third or fourth bridge over the Columbia River as intriguing for the future but counterproductive at this point. She supports bus rapid transit, but says a new bridge should be capable of carrying light rail. Hoff stresses that a new I-5 Bridge will be ineffective unless bottlenecks on the Oregon side of the river are addressed, and he does not support light rail.
Hoff is a retired credit union CEO who is capable of effectively representing the 18th District. But Gillespie is better versed on the details of legislation and the issues facing Southwest Washington, and she demonstrates a collaborative nature that would serve constituents well.
The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Kathy Gillespie for state representative from the 18th Legislative District, Position 2.