For voters in the 49th Legislative District, supporting Democrat Sharon Wylie might be the easiest decision on their ballot. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Wylie for reelection to the House of Representatives.
As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to generate discussion. The Columbian trusts that voters will examine the candidates and the issues before casting an informed ballot. Such an examination will reveal not only that Wylie is an engaged and effective lawmaker, but also that her opponent is poorly qualified to be a representative.
Wylie was appointed to the House of Representatives in 2011 and has won election every two years starting in 2012. She received 72 percent of the vote in 2016 and ran unopposed in 2018. Despite that comfort zone, she has avoided complacency while representing her constituents.
For example, during this year’s session, she strongly advocated for an amendment to the state Constitution so judges can deny bail to a defendant who violates a court order by obtaining or attempting to obtain a gun. The impetus for the effort was the shooting death of a Vancouver woman in a school parking lot.
The bill did not advance out of committee, but Wylie said: “A constitutional amendment in a short session is a heavy lift. There needs to be much public involvement to make a change of this kind. Most people do not know about the constitutional right to bail and assume bail keeps dangerous people away from the public. Unfortunately, that is not true.”
On her campaign website, Wylie emphasizes a desire for police reform, efforts to guide the state through the coronavirus pandemic and equal opportunity for all citizens. She writes: “The need to educate remotely during the pandemic has shown us the cost of the digital divide and the lack of access for rural and low-income people. The Legislature has considered the need to ensure high-speed internet for years. It is time to get it done. This is as much a critical infrastructure as bridges and drinking water.”
Wylie has promoted progressive policies while maintaining the ability to work across the aisle. She found common ground with then-Rep. Liz Pike in trying to reopen discussions about a replacement Interstate 5 Bridge, and she partnered with Rep. Paul Harris to bring the Bridgeview Education and Employment Resource Center to life in Vancouver’s McLoughlin Heights area.
“Putting people first, a government that reflects those it governs, an economy that truly provides equal opportunity for all and a strong system that provides the services that make this possible — I believe in these values and my work reflects that,” Wylie writes. “But I also represent those who may disagree with me and others in my community.”
While some voters might disagree with Wylie’s approach, it is unfortunate that those voters do not have a viable alternative. Instead, challenger Justin Forsman embraces conspiracy theories rather than seeking solutions.
During previous campaigns, Forsman has warned about the addition of fluoride to city drinking water and has advocated for the creation of a Vancouver currency backed by silver. During this year’s campaign, he commented on Facebook about the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis: “I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire death was staged in order to foment race rioting, and looting.”
Wylie’s campaign is more rooted in reality. The Columbian recommends that she be reelected as representative from the 49th Legislative District, Position 1.