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THE retirement of two capable and long-serving lawmakers is shuffling the lineup in the 21st District, which takes in Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mukilteo and South Everett.

State Rep. Mary Helen Roberts is not running again. Four Democrats and one Republican seek to replace her.

The Times editorial board recommends political newcomer Scott Whelpley for election to the district’s Position 1 seat. He is a former Navy aviator who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star.

The Mukilteo Democrat who holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington would be learning on the job. But he holds the clear potential for independence from powerful interest groups and his Democratic caucus. In the interest of transparency, Whelpley is among candidates who post answers to endorsement questionnaires from special-interest groups on his website.

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He would go to Olympia with a goal of helping end the polarization of partisan politics. His instincts are to negotiate and promote collaboration, and he would be a strong proponent for quality education.

Whelpley has an impressive list of legislative endorsements, including former state Sen. Paull Shin from the 21st District and he is recommended by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn.

The strongest competition comes from Edmonds City Council member Strom Peterson, a Democrat, who received incumbent Roberts’ endorsement, among others.

In the second House seat for District 21, incumbent state Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, is reluctantly recommended for election. She was appointed to replace Rep. Marko Liias, who filled the seat left by the January resignation of state Sen. Shin.

Ortiz-Self has an academic and professional background in education and counseling, and in management of programs. .

She says she is cautious about not just dumping money into the K-12 system without ensuring effectiveness, but demonstrated no independence from teachers union positions in an interview. Her challengers did not make a case that they would do better. Ortiz-Self is not making her candidate questionnaires public.

For the 21st District, Democrats Whelpley and Ortiz-Self would bring fresh perspectives and experiences to Olympia.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus)

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