Over the past 11 years, Democrat Sharon Wylie has effectively represented the people of the 49th Legislative District. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that she be elected to another term in Olympia.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian suggests that voters study the candidates and the issues before casting an informed vote.
In examining Wylie’s record, it is easy to find a long list of accomplishments. Most notably, she played a key role in reviving discussions about a replacement Interstate 5 Bridge. Wylie was the lead sponsor of a bill that declared the project to be one of statewide significance, kick-starting a process that had languished.
“The economic well-being of both states largely depends on people and goods crossing the river, so ensuring this connection is safe and reliable is a priority,” she said at the time.
But Wylie’s work on bolstering Washington’s economy extends beyond a single bridge. She is vice chair of the House Transportation Committee and notes that the current Legislature passed a massive transportation bill without an increase to the gas tax.
Wylie often has focused on issues that have broad support in the Democratic Party, and she mentions her work on bills related to sex education, domestic violence and social equity. But she also has a demonstrated ability to work effectively with Republicans.
For example, she collaborated with Republican Rep. Paul Harris to secure funding for what is now the Bridgeview Resource Center in central Vancouver, a facility that connects people with employment, education and health services.
Wylie volunteers with the National Institute for Civil Discourse, writing in the Voters’ Pamphlet, “because I believe in respect and civil problem solving.” And she told the editorial board during an interview, “Campaigning is a competition; governing is collaborating.”
When asked about a surplus in state revenue, Wylie stresses the need to replenish Washington’s “rainy day” fund. This is in contrast to many candidates who are eager to find ways to spend that money.
She also says she will “fight vigorously” to preserve Washington’s abortion laws. “I’m proud of the laws we have to protect a woman’s right to choose,” she said.
Perhaps most important, Wylie has demonstrated a willingness and ability to do the hard work that comes with being an elected official, rather than seeking platitudes. “People who get elected sometimes prefer to cut ribbons rather than fill potholes,” she said.
Wylie is being opposed by Republican Park Llafet, who has experience with school organizations, neighborhood organizations and nonprofits. During an interview with the editorial board, Llafet focused on an increase in crime and homelessness. These issues are, indeed, of great concern to local residents, but he tended to recite facts rather than offer solutions.
Regarding a state budget surplus, Llafet said, “To some degree, some of that money should go back to the citizens.”
When asked whether he would support a statewide abortion ban, he said, “I will always side with the unborn child.”
In the process, Llafet did not provide clear reasons for why Wylie should not be reelected. We cannot think of any, either.
Sharon Wylie has been an effective and responsive legislator. The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends that she be reelected to represent the 49th District.