Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, is seeking her seventh term as the 49th District Position 1 representative. Challenging her for her state House seat is Republican Park Llafet.
Wylie said her years of experience and seniority in the state House of Representatives are absolutely needed.
“I feel like I am most needed and most relevant because we always have a huge number of people that are new,” Wylie said.
She said much of the Legislature’s work takes a long time to learn and a long time to accomplish.
“You have to be really dogged and put up with a lot of process and frustration. It takes a long time to get people on the same page,” she said.
Wylie is currently the vice chair of the House Transportation Committee, and is a member of the Commerce and Gaming and Finance committees. She also serves on the State Arts Commission and the Economic Development Finance Authority. Wylie served two terms in the Oregon Legislature in the 1990s. Since 2011 she has represented the 49th District, which is located in the southwest corner of the county, including Vancouver’s west side.
While he may never have served in an elected office, Llafet says his life experience will guide him well in the Legislature. He commends Wylie for her dedication and hard work but said “We need to go another direction.”
Llafet said he chose to run for reasons somewhat different than most politicians.
“I was adopted from Seoul, South Korea, when I was 13 months old and then I became a U.S. naturalized citizen when I was 4. For me, one of the big reasons to run is because I wanted to give something back to the men and women who have served in our military,” Llafet said. “To be a public servant is a way to give back to the community.”
Llafet said he’s been active in the community for more than 20 years and has always been interested in politics. He started by serving on his neighborhood association.
“It allowed me to see how government works, how the city of Vancouver works, how a city manager works with a mayor and city council,” he said.
Wylie said the Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project is a prime example of something that will take a lot of time and effort to accomplish. While she supports the project, she said she recognizes residents have a lot of concerns and questions about the bridge.
“We’ve moved it to a next phase where a lot of issues and costs are going to be revealed and analyzed,” she said. “There will be more decisions to be made. More leadership is needed to get us to a point where there’s enough agreement that we can get the resources we need.”
Llafet lists his top priorities as public safety, reducing taxes and addressing homelessness. He also wants to protect parent choice, which includes holding state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal and school boards accountable.
Clark County’s burgeoning crime rate is the result of bad legislation, Llafet said. He said law enforcement officers are responding to incidents where they cannot pursue suspects because of legislation passed in 2021. He said suspects are even calling 911 to tell law enforcement they can’t be pursued. There have been two confirmed reports of this happening in Redmond and Seattle.
He also said police officers, especially in Clark County, need pay raises to remain competitive with other jurisdictions.
“It comes back to the legislators, in Olympia, crafting bills with law enforcement. Legislators are not law enforcement,” he added.
Along with moving the bridge project forward, Wylie put public safety, tax fairness, health care and cybersecurity among her top priorities.
Wylie said having a law enforcement training academy in Southwest Washington would be especially beneficial to Clark County’s public safety needs.
“We’re also going to have to look at a state-of-the-art jail. I think we need to co-locate some of our facilities,” she said. “I’m very much in favor of an adequately funded, smart law and justice system that has the right services for what people need in order to not recidivate.”
She said being able to provide those services will be dependent on having adequate staff that are well-trained.
Wylie has outpaced her opponent in campaign contributions, bringing in almost $75,000 from individual donors, political action committees, unions and businesses.
Llafet has raised $17,343 in cash and in-kind contributions, almost entirely from individual donors. He also received contributions from the Washington State Republican Party and Clark County Republican Women.