State Sen. Lisa Wellman’s insight and experience will be particularly valuable as the Washington Legislature grapples with the digital inequities uncovered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With only one unseasoned challenger, Wellman is the only choice for the 41st Legislative District senate seat, which represents Mercer Island, Bellevue, Newcastle and parts of Issaquah, Sammamish and Renton.
Wellman, a former tech executive, is chairwoman of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. She also serves on the Energy, Environment and Technology Committee, and the Labor and Commerce Committee.
This editorial board has disagreed with her on some of her votes, which have exacerbated inequity in our school funding system. For instance, she was instrumental in increasing caps on local property-tax levies to fund public schools. That 2019 decision allows affluent school districts, such as those in the 41st, to raise more money from local taxpayers than districts with smaller tax bases. But during Wellman’s term, the Legislature has made progress on some other important issues in education, such as increasing funding and supports for special education and working to safeguard student health and safety.
More work remains on these issues. If reelected, Wellman must make a greater effort to listen to parents and other ground-level stakeholders who have firsthand experience with the problems lawmakers seek to address — something critics say she has not consistently done.
Even before the pandemic, Wellman fought to expand access to reliable, affordable broadband internet, helping reestablish the statewide broadband office and creating a competitive grant and loan program to help bring broadband to underserved areas. She speaks passionately about bridging the digital divide.
Wellman’s challenger, Bellevue Republican Mike Nykreim, has many criticisms about the economic effects of the pandemic response, infrastructure spending and regulation. But Wellman is better equipped to handle the difficult decisions ahead.
Voters should return Wellman to Olympia for a second term.