Annette Cleveland’s effectiveness during eight years in the state Senate is exemplified by the fact that she is the chair of the Health & Long Term Care Committee. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends that the Democrat be reelected to represent the 49th Legislative District for another four years.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian suggests that voters study the issues and the candidates before making an informed decision for the Nov. 3 election.
During a time when the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with public health and the economy throughout the state, Cleveland’s areas of expertise are particularly important. She worked as a federal external affairs officer for Legacy Health for 14 years until 2019 and has been at the forefront of legislative efforts to strengthen health care for all Washingtonians.
For example, in 2019, Washington became the first state to provide financial assistance for residents facing long-term health care bills. Cleveland sponsored a companion bill in the Senate and supported the House bill that eventually was signed by the governor.
For another example, Cleveland has supported measures to limit exemptions for childhood vaccinations and to raise the minimum age for the purchase of tobacco and vaping products. “I know the principles and the values I share match this district,” she said during a remote interview with the editorial board.
Those values will be essential as the Legislature deals with a public health crisis. And Cleveland’s status as committee chair will play a role in ensuring that meaningful bills related to health care find their way to the Senate floor.
Cleveland is being challenged by Republican Rey Reynolds, a Vancouver Police Department officer who long has been an active member of the community. Reynolds is a thoughtful and articulate advocate for his beliefs, including his assertion that Gov. Jay Inslee’s shutdown orders have been excessive. “I believe we can safely open up right now,” he told the editorial board.
That is open for discussion. What should not be open for debate, however, is Reynolds’ doubt about the effectiveness of masks in slowing the spread of the virus, a doubt which he expressed during the interview. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health outlets have reinforced that the wearing of masks is essential to stemming the virus, and Cleveland said, “I believe our CDC, our public officials in this state.”
Regarding the economic recovery, Reynolds supports cutting the state budget to the levels of the 2016-17 biennium, which was before a court-mandated increase to education spending. He mentions the department of ecology, fish and wildlife, and information technology as possible areas for budget cuts, and he opposes any tax increases. “What should be part of the discussion is opening our economy,” he said.
Cleveland says that infrastructure spending will be essential to economic recovery and says, “I believe the return on investment benefits every citizen in the state of Washington.” She long has been a leader in rekindling discussions about replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, and she was a prime sponsor of legislation laying out a framework for new talks with Oregon representatives.
In describing her goals as a lawmaker, Cleveland said, “I want to be remembered for being quietly effective.” Thus far, she has lived up to that desire. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends that Annette Cleveland be reelected as senator from the 49th District in order to continue that mission.