In the 18th Legislative District race for representative, Position 2, there is a clear choice. That choice, however, will depend on a voter’s particular political leanings. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends incumbent Republican Larry Hoff for the position while acknowledging the strong qualifications of Democratic challenger Donna Sinclair.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian trusts that voters will study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot; this is particularly important in a race with two capable candidates who have differing political philosophies.
Hoff, who is completing his first two-year term in the House, brings valuable financial credentials to the position. He is a retired CEO of a credit union and has served as president and treasurer for several local organizations. In Olympia, he serves on the consumer protection and business, appropriations and labor and workplace standards committees.
That background will be particularly important when the Legislature returns to work. Projections say the state is facing a $4.5 billion revenue shortfall between now and mid-2023, and managing the recession created by the coronavirus pandemic will be lawmakers’ primary duty.
During an editorial board interview with both candidates, Hoff said, “I don’t think we’ve ever truly taken a look at the expense side of things” and said he would favor examining the state budget and telling agencies to “justify your department.”
Early in the pandemic, he supported a temporary sales-tax holiday and suggested suspending the state’s business and occupation tax. Those might or might not appear to be wise policies at this point, but Hoff is pragmatic enough to effectively weigh the benefits and the drawbacks.
Regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, racial justice and police reform, he said, “There are a lot of problems with the movement” and added, “I think the bigger issue is getting the police injected into the community.”
Sinclair is a history professor at Washington State University Vancouver and is on the board of the Washougal School District.
Regarding the Legislature’s response to the pandemic and Hoff’s approach, she said, “I think it’s irresponsible to say we can’t increase any taxes” and that she would work for “a future that’s sustainable, an economy that works for everyone.” She noted that the B&O tax accounts for 18 percent of the state budget. “We need a fair and equitable tax system,” she said.
Asked about racial justice, she said, “I think it’s very clear we need to address racial justice in the Legislature and use an equity lens in our lawmaking.”
Most important, Hoff and Sinclair engaged in a thoughtful discussion in which each demonstrated their ability to work with others. Either candidate would be an effective representative for their constituents.
Hoff has vast experience with financial matters and is a conservative; he said he will vote against Referendum 90, which would establish statewide sex education in public schools, and opposes gun control measures but believes I-1639 should be enforced. Sinclair has a background in education and will focus her efforts more on schools and social equity; she supports R-90 and says she supports the Second Amendment but “most people want some gun laws.”
We encourage voters to view the interview and decide which candidate best aligns with their positions. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends Larry Hoff in the 18th District.