State Rep. Eric Pettigrew has earned a sixth term representing Seattle’s 37th Legislative District in Position 2.
The Democrat is part of the state Legislature’s growing crop of smart, reform-minded lawmakers doing good work in a bipartisan fashion.
As House Democratic Caucus Chair, he is third in command in the House Democratic leadership.
Pettigrew has earned a reputation for taking tough, independent votes for reforms to public-employee health care and pensions. The Southeast Seattle lawmaker joined with state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, in pushing for a bipartisan-backed package of education reforms, including charter schools and stronger teacher evaluations.
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His sensibilities are informed by his strong advocacy for children and education, one reason he is backed by Stand for Children, an education reform organization.
Pettigrew offers a critical counterweight to Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, his district seatmate. Santos is chair of the House Education Committee and routinely blocks education reforms from being heard or voted on in her committee. That included Pettigrew’s charter-schools bill, which stalled when it reached Santos’ desk.
Five of the state’s persistently lowest-performing schools are in Pettigrew’s district, adding a sense of urgency to the lawmaker’s push for reforms that have earned him the ire of the influential Washington Education Association.
Pettigrew’s response is one to learn from: He started a political-action committee to help support other Democrats bucking their party. He named it “Revising the Status Quo.”
Pettigrew’s opponent is Tamra Smilanich, a private contractor in public and private schools who prefers not to be identified with a political party. Smilanich does not have Pettigrew’s breadth of political and civic experience.
Voters should support Pettigrew.