Strom Peterson (left) and Lillian Ortiz-Self

Strom Peterson (left) and Lillian Ortiz-Self

Editorial: Peterson, Ortiz-Self for 21st Legislative District

Peterson and Ortiz-Self have won passage of legislation regarding education and the environment.

By The Herald Editorial Board

21st Legislative District

The 21st District includes the cities of Mukilteo, Lynnwood and Edmonds and parts of Everett.

House of Representatives, Position 1: Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds, is running for his third term in the House, following five years on the Edmonds City Council. He is challenged by Republican Amy Schaper of Lynnwood. Schaper did not respond to invitations to participate in the editorial board’s interview process.

Peterson, who owns an Edmonds deli and cheese shop, is an accomplished legislator who has focused on environmental, health and education issues in the last two years.

Notably, Peterson was primary sponsor for a 2017 law that established a statewide drug take-back program to properly dispose of prescription drugs, such as opioids, to prevent their illegal use. Other successful legislation includes financial assistance to repair, replace and clean up underground heating-oil tanks; improvements to a program that provides low-interest public works loans to local governments; and a “hunger-free students’ bill of rights” to end practices that penalized or shamed children whose parents had fallen behind on school lunch payments.

Peterson expects to again address environmental issues with new and resubmitted legislation including a statewide plastic bag ban, such as has been passed in numerous cities, and bills to reduce the release of toxic chemicals into waterways and the environment.

Serving as vice-chairman on the environment and capital budget committees, Peterson is hopeful that the capital budget can provide significant funding to address pressing environmental needs regarding climate change and the health of Puget Sound and other waterways as well as salmon and orca whales. Salmon habitat projects are likely to include continued replacement of fish-blocking culverts, estuary enhancement and hatchery development, which a recent state report recommended as the most immediate method for increasing the orca’s primary food source.

The capital budget also will be key to funding continued work to increase addiction and mental health treatment facilities in communities, work on which Peterson and 10th Legislative District Republican Norma Smith have cooperated.

Peterson also hopes to see work on reforms to the state’s tax package and supports consideration of a capital gains tax, continued culling of tax loopholes, but also a reduction in the business and occupation tax that he believes is a disadvantage to small businesses.

Peterson has shown himself as one of the region’s most effective lawmakers and should be returned to his seat.

House of Representatives, Position 2: Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, like Peterson, is running for her third term, following appointment to the seat in 2014. Ortiz-Self is employed as a counselor and educator with the Everett School District. She is challenged by Lynnwood Republican Petra Bigea.

Bigea, who works as a medical records manager for a Seattle hospital, emigrated from Romania 23 years ago and has been a naturalized citizen since 2000. She has also worked as a teacher and interpreter. Her experience growing up in Romania informs her distrust of socialism and her rejection of what she sees as over-taxation in the state. In particular, she’s critical that much of the revenue from the state’s education funding legislation went to teacher salaries and not classrooms.

Ortiz-Self recognizes the work that remains following the Legislature’s recent focus on funding issues. Still to be addressed are a lack of adequate funding for special education, mental health counseling in schools, including support for teachers; and continued support for the career and technical education “pipeline,” she said.

Like her seatmate, Ortiz-Self has successfully won passage of bills for which she was the primary sponsor, many focused on education and children’s welfare, including increased access to mental health resources for students; establishment of a vulnerable youth guardianship program; and enhancements to high school pre-apprenticeship and “high school and beyond plans.”

She shares Peterson’s views regarding consideration of a capital gains tax and closing of tax loopholes that don’t provide a clear incentive.

She is a member of House committees on education, transportation, early childhood and rules.

Ortiz-Self’s work allows her an detailed view into the emotional needs of students and their families, a useful perspective for the Legislature. She and Peterson have made a good team in the House, resulting in sound and necessary legislation for their constituents and the state.

Ortiz-Self deserves the support of her district’s voters.

Senate: Leading up to the primary election, the editorial board endorsed Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, who was first appointed to the Senate in 2014. He is seeking election to his second term and is challenged by Mukilteo Republican Mario Lotmore, who works in aerospace and manufacturing management.

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