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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

In Our View: Lynda Wilson effective in 17th District

The Columbian
Published: October 17, 2020, 6:03am

During her first four-year term as state senator from the 17th District, Lynda Wilson has been an effective legislator who responds to the needs of her district. The Columbian Editorial Board recommends that she be reelected.

As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to provide information and foster discussion. The Columbian also recommends that voters study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot for the Nov. 3 general election.

Wilson, a Republican, is facing a strong challenger in Democrat Daniel Smith. But her experience as both a lawmaker and a business owner will serve the 17th District well as the state recovers from an economic downturn created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Wilson is a ranking member of the Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade Committee and also serves on the Ways & Means Committee — both of which will play an important role in defining the state’s economic strategies. “I think because I’m a business owner I have a lot of perspective,” she said during a remote interview with the editorial board.

When asked about dealing with a state revenue shortfall projected to be about $4.5 billion between now and mid-2023, Wilson pointed out that 56 percent of the state budget is protected by law and roughly 70 percent of the budget is beyond the reach of legislators. During a series of editorial board interviews with all legislative candidates from Southwest Washington, she was the only candidate to provide that necessary perspective.

Although Wilson brings business experience to the Legislature and stresses that she is a fiscal conservative, her legislation often has focused on social issues. Wilson led efforts to protect victims of domestic violence through passage of the Tiffany Hill Act, named for a Vancouver woman who was killed by her estranged husband. And she was the lead sponsor of a new law exempting feminine hygiene products from state sales tax.

Smith is a longtime social worker and first-time candidate who offers a strong perspective on social issues. “I’m going to be the voice for families and our most vulnerable,” he said. Smith also decried the current political landscape and said voters “expect leaders to speak out about vitriol and partisan politics.”

During an interview with the editorial board, Smith gave an eloquent answer to a question about racial justice and said, “This is the time to not blink, to not look away from systemic racism. We have systemic issues in all sectors of society.”

Smith also demonstrated strong knowledge of the intricacies of the state budget and is well-informed on a variety of issues. His background in mental health would be particularly beneficial as the state deals with the toll of COVID-19 and with the underlying causes of homelessness.

In one area where the candidates disagree, Smith expressed strong support for Referendum 90, which would approve a comprehensive sex education mandate passed by the Legislature. Wilson said she will oppose Referendum 90.

Wilson and Smith demonstrate differing areas of expertise and would bring differing strengths to Olympia. Either is capable of being an effective legislator for the citizens of their district.

But the editorial board believes Wilson has been an effective and conscientious state senator and warrants another four years. The Columbian recommends Lynda Wilson for reelection in the 17th District.