Two Democrats have announced they will run for positions in the 17th Legislative District this year.
Political newcomer Daniel Smith intends to run for the seat held by Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver.
Tanisha Harris, who came within 859 votes of unseating Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, two years ago, will run for the Position 1 seat again this year.
Smith is Southwest Washington office manager for the Community Health Plan of Washington, a nonprofit organization that provides managed care services to Medicaid patients.
He emphasized his 20 years in social work in launching his first campaign for elected office. Smith’s top issues include providing affordable child care, supporting teachers and students, and protecting the environment.
“I am passionate about mental health care access, especially for kids,” he said.
Smith, when asked why he was running as a Democrat, replied: “The values that the Democratic Party has stood for a long time are the same values I was brought up in — family values, community values, making sure everybody has an equal opportunity for success.”
Smith said he grew up in Buffalo Grove, Ill., outside Chicago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in sociology, from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, and a master’s degree in social work from Portland State University.
His wife, Bethany Rivard, is a teacher at Fort Vancouver High School who lost a close election for an Evergreen School Board position by 138 votes last year.
For the past eight years, the couple have lived outside east Vancouver with their two daughters.
“I believe now is the time for a leader who is measured, thoughtful and dedicated to listening and finding real world solutions that solve complicated problems,” Smith said in a statement. “I bring a 20-year track record of results and will work passionately for all people in the 17th District.”
Harris spent 10 years working for Evergreen Public Schools in multicultural and diversity education at Heritage High School and the district’s offices. She currently works as a court-appointed special advocate program specialist for the YWCA Clark County, where she advocates for children in the dependency/foster care system and supervises court-appointed special advocate volunteers.
“I am running because I believe the working and middle-class families of the 17th Legislative District deserve a voice and a champion in Olympia,” Harris said in a statement. “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, a Vancouver native, graduated from Evergreen High School. She attended Clark College and Washington State University Vancouver, earning an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree in social science with concentrations in human development, psychology and sociology.
Harris, who unsuccessfully ran for Clark County Council in 2016, was co-chair of Evergreen Citizens for Schools for the 2018 and 2019 bond and levy campaigns.
She is an elected Democratic precinct committee officer and an executive board member for Washington State Democrats, as well as a 2004 graduate of Leadership Clark County and recipient of the YWCA Val Joshua Racial Justice Award.