KAREN Keiser, the longtime Democratic state senator from Kent, faces two challengers this year in her bid for re-election in the 33rd Legislative District. Keiser is better qualified than both and has earned another term.
After 18 years in the Legislature, Keiser is known as a faithful supporter of labor and an advocate for health-care reform. Early in her career, Keiser was spokeswoman for the Washington State Labor Council, and at times her support for the labor agenda has led her to oppose important legislation — like efforts to rein in benefits for public employees and to reform the state workers’ compensation program.
Yet, Keiser has always argued her positions thoughtfully and with some independence. In 2012, she supported a bill that would have streamlined health-insurance offerings for teachers and might have saved them money — despite opposition from the Washington Education Association, which benefits from the current system.
As chair of the Senate’s health committee she worked closely with the state’s congressional delegation on the Affordable Care Act, and she was one of the lawmakers most involved in drafting legislation to create the state health exchange. Keiser’s presence would bring continuity to the debate.
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Funding education, she said, is her top priority next session. While Keiser disappointingly opposed including student test scores in teacher evaluations , neither challenger has the civic résumé or the knowledge required to take on a lawmaker of her stature. Marylin Taylor, a Democrat, argues that it is time for Keiser to step aside, but she cannot explain why. Martin Metz, a Republican, is a retired Army officer who pledges to reduce government burdens on business, but he offers little in the way of concrete proposals.
Next session, as lawmakers debate tax increases for K-12 education, Keiser should respond with moderation. Keiser’s long and distinguished career suggests she deserves re-election.
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).