State Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self has ably represented the 21st Legislative District since 2014 and deserves election to a fifth full term. The Mukilteo Democrat is well attuned to the amount of work involved in making Washington’s educational system safe and equitable for students regardless of geography.

She has established herself as an effective advocate for increasing resources for public schools, a perpetual need within a Legislature perennially distracted by other demands. A full decade after the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision requiring robust educational investment, funding gaps persist between rich and poor districts — and for neighborhood schools within those districts — in counselor and nurse staffing, special education availability and student transportation. Ortiz-Self is well positioned to move the needle, as a counselor in the Everett School District who also chairs the state House of Representatives’ majority caucus. 

“Until every school has a counselor and has it with the right ratio, I will keep fighting for that,” Ortiz-Self told this editorial board. “They know that when they see me coming.” 

She is a strong choice for voters in the 21st district, which includes Edmonds, Everett and Mukilteo. Her legislative track record includes pressing for state attention to children’s needs for healthy environments both in the classroom and beyond. She has pushed to reduce class sizes and keep children with their families when state intervention can improve problematic environments safely. In 2021, her bill to ban private prisons passed the House with a wide bipartisan margin and became law. 

She is challenged by two Republicans, Petra Bigea and Jenifer Short. Both said they are running because of vague assertions of “Constitutional rights” and criticized what they called state overreach in COVID-19 vaccine mandates and school curriculum. Bigea unsuccessfully challenged Ortiz-Self in 2018. Short has also taken an active role in a regional doorbelling campaign to scrutinize voter rolls. 

Ortiz-Self has the proven ability to turn her authentic concerns about children’s lives into a deserved focal point for legislative policy and budgeting. Voters in the 21st District should reelect Ortiz-Self.