Because of her vast community service — along with her broad understanding of the issues facing Washington — Democrat Tanisha Harris has earned the recommendation of The Columbian’s Editorial Board for state representative from the 17th Legislative District.
As always, this is only a recommendation. The Columbian trusts that voters will examine the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot.
In studying the candidates for Position 1 from the 17th District, voters will find disparate candidates. Harris and incumbent Vicki Kraft, a Republican, widely differ on the issues, meaning that voters with firm political leanings likely already have made their choice in this race. But for those who are eager to help Washington move forward and who desire a vision for the future, Harris is a clear choice.
“As an elected official, our job is to listen and not necessarily internalize our own personal experience,” Harris said during a remote editorial board interview with both candidates.
Harris has worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate specialist, advocating for children in foster care, and has worked with Evergreen Public Schools in the field of multicultural and diversity education. She has been a co-chair of Evergreen Citizens for Schools to help promote passage of school district bonds and levies, and has served on a task force studying diversity on the Vancouver City Council.
She has been a firm advocate for diversity and inclusion in our community, promoting policies that can make the 17th District better for all its residents.
On education, Harris writes on her website: “We can and must do better for all kids. Until every child has a classroom instead of a portable, until our teachers are compensated fairly for the much-needed work they do, until our school districts have the tools and resources they need to think proactively about each kid, we are not there yet.”
Harris told the editorial board that climate change is exacerbated by human activity and “we need to address it; I believe in the science.” She said she opposes a state income tax but believes the tax code should be revamped. And she stressed that she does not support defunding the police but said, “We’re talking about what we are asking our police to do” as part of an eloquent soliloquy about police reform.
Kraft, meanwhile, embraces a conservative agenda that some will find attractive but we believe is extreme. During the coronavirus pandemic, she has promoted and participated in rallies that have violated social distancing and mask-wearing protocols, and she told the editorial board, “Gov. Inslee is acting like a dictator.”
Kraft has a history of bucking conventional wisdom. She was one of two legislators in the state to vote against a transportation budget in 2019; she was the only legislator to oppose a move toward statewide high-speed broadband internet access; and she was the only Southwest Washington lawmaker to vote against a bill to enhance school safety. When asked about climate change, she eventually got around to saying, “No, I don’t buy into climate change.”
Being an iconoclast can be beneficial at times, but Kraft too often is intent on keeping Washington at a standstill instead of moving it forward. “I have the political courage to stand alone and stand for you,” she said of her message to voters.
Harris, on the other hand, will stand for policies that benefit all Washingtonians rather than a narrow constituency. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends a vote for Tanisha Harris in the 17th Legislative District.