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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Rep. Monica Stonier faces two Republican challengers for 49th Legislative District, House Position 2

District includes Vancouver, Ridgefield, Camas

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 5, 2024, 6:03am
4 Photos
Candidates for 49th Legislative District House Position 2 Russell Barber, from left, incumbent Monica Jurado Stonier and Justin Forsman answer questions Tuesday during a Clark County League of Women Voters forum at the Vancouver Community Library.
Candidates for 49th Legislative District House Position 2 Russell Barber, from left, incumbent Monica Jurado Stonier and Justin Forsman answer questions Tuesday during a Clark County League of Women Voters forum at the Vancouver Community Library. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

In the 49th Legislative District, Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, is running for reelection for House Position 2.

The Democrat faces two Republican challengers: Russell Barber, a software engineer and cybersecurity consultant for a large energy provider, and Justin Forsman, a small-business owner and longtime network engineer for Dish Network, Comcast and other telecommunications companies.

Washington’s 49th Legislative District encompasses Vancouver, the state’s fourth most populous city, as well as suburban and semi-rural areas to the north and east such as Ridgefield and Camas.

Monica Stonier

Stonier, 47, was first elected to the 17th Legislative District House Position 1 seat in 2012, where she served until her move to the 49th District in 2016.

She is an instructional coach at Evergreen Public Schools, where she has worked for more than 20 years. She has been a staunch pro-labor representative throughout her tenure.

“Our public school system is the biggest portion of the state budget. It is why I ran for office in the first place,” she said Tuesday at a Clark County League of Women Voters candidate forum. “It’s important to make sure that we have people who work in the system and understand both the benefits and the tensions around funding and the quality education that we can provide. That is one of the skills that I think I bring to the table.”

During the past legislative session, Stonier was a lead sponsor for bills that sought to expand graduation pathways for high school students and prevent school districts from discriminating against school curricula that teach about any defined protected classes. She also introduced a bill that sought to end child marriage by setting the minimum legal age for marriage at 18.

She serves as the House majority floor leader and leads her caucus on several key issues such as labor and workers’ rights, public education, health care access for children, financial literacy education and portable benefits. She also serves on the House Appropriations, Education, Health Care & Wellness Committee, as well as the Rules Committee.

“I have a reputation for being bipartisan in my work while also not sacrificing my own personal values,” she said. “I hope to continue doing that work in the 49th district.”

To learn more about Stonier’s campaign, visit votemonicastonier.com.

Russell Barber

Barber, 50, is seeking public office for the first time. He is a software engineer of 30 years who has lived in the 49th District for 24 years.

If elected, he said he would lead with a focus on developing transportation infrastructure in Southwest Washington. He proposes construction of a third bridge, tunnel or ferry system across the Columbia River. Barber said he would also hope to find ways to lower local taxes and expand access to education options beyond public schooling.

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At Tuesday’s candidate forum, Barber said his experience as a software engineer taught him “great problem-solving skills” and how “to find solutions that work for everyone.” He added his experience in the U.S. Air Force instilled in him the values of teamwork, leadership, integrity and discipline.

“That’s why I’m here — commitment to service,” he said.

He added he is concerned about rising crime and housing affordability.

“In Olympia, I’ll focus on practical solutions to our most pressing issues, including education, addressing transportation needs, and supporting working families and local businesses,” he said. “As a representative, I pledge to be accessible, transparent and to always put the needs of our district first.”

Justin Forsman

Forsman, 36, has never held public office, but he has run for several other positions in the Vancouver area, including multiple runs for Vancouver City Council. He was raised in Damascus, Ore., and has spent most of his life in Clark County.

Forsman filed to run as a Republican. However, he has noted he disagrees with both the Democratic and Republican establishment, adding that he supports left-wing issues like drug legalization but wants to limit taxes and social spending programs.

He also wants to focus on election integrity and believes President Joe Biden’s election was illegitimate.

“What compels me to run for office is the inability of the people that we elect to actually care about the rights and the civil liberties of American individuals,” he said at Tuesday’s candidate forum. “What we’ve seen lately is a total misstep and a total erosion of freedom.”

He called vaccine mandates and facial covering requirements a “gross misstep of American government,” and he expressed support for Second-Amendment rights, immigration reform and parental rights.

“We need to think very radically for positive change,” he said. “We want to really remember the lockdowns and what the government did to us and put people in there that are going to defend the rights of the people and not the rights and the motives of the establishment.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Justin Forsman is 36 years old.