In the primary race for the 44th Legislative District’s Position 2, The Times editorial board had endorsed a moderate candidate who fell politically between the two other candidates.
But when the results came in, the pragmatic Democrat, Anne Anderson, placed third in the primary, after Republican Mark James and Democrat April Berg.
Of the two candidates, both are elected officials with public-service records. James, a small-business owner, is in his third year as Marysville City Council member and is member of the Snohomish County Planning Commission. Berg of Mill Creek is in her second year as an Everett School Board member and serves on the Mill Creek Planning Commission.
For her focus on education, Berg has the edge.
Where they differ is significant. James doesn’t think the state, facing a pandemic-induced budget crisis, needs to increase taxes. He would balance the budget with cuts only. That is an approach unlikely to protect the state’s most vulnerable, attack continuing inequity in education and get the economy going again.
Meanwhile, Berg not only talks enthusiastically about tax increases, including a capital-gains tax, she also says the state should consider increasing its debt to help raise more money for the budget. She boasts about her endorsements by state-employee unions but doesn’t mention business support. When pressed to discuss what cuts she would make, she says she’s not sure. That approach is unlikely to put the state on the best footing, especially if Snohomish County loses Boeing’s 787 assembly line to consolidation in South Carolina.
Berg is the better candidate because of her chosen focus on education in a state that is still struggling to meet the needs of all its students and on equity, a goal that transcends education to our larger society.
The editorial board recommends Berg — with an admonition. In a purple district, and especially if she wants to be reelected, she also needs a laser-focus on economic vitality of the region and the whole state, not just public-sector unions. A robust economy, and those searching for a paycheck, need jobs.