The race for House Position 1 in Washington’s 44th Legislative District spotlights the urgent need to restore the relationship between the police and public. Voters there should reelect former county sheriff John Lovick to the Legislature. 

Lovick, a Democrat from Mill Creek, has a long history of public service, including time as Snohomish County Executive and as a sergeant in the State Patrol. As a lawmaker, he has been consistently near the political center of the House’s Democratic caucus, and was selected by his party to be the chamber’s interim speaker in 2019. 

Seattle Times editorial board endorsements: Election 2020

But he has also been a strong consensus-builder for bipartisan reforms to modernize Washington’s justice system. His expertise and credibility as a Black law enforcement veteran will be vital in turning the nationwide protests against police racism into sustainable public policy.

Lovick told this editorial board he’ll start by reintroducing two reform bills from the 2020 session that House Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly supported but the Senate let drop. One would establish training requirements for newly elected sheriffs. Another would create a database of police use of deadly force. Both deserve reexamination in light of the righteous public fury to fix policing. He also understands the high priority that school safety and behavioral health must have even during the state’s deep financial shortfalls. 

Challenger John Kartak, the Republican mayor of Snohomish, lacks Lovick’s experienced policy insights. In an interview, he levied highly partisan criticism of regional and state politics, and defended the May 31 presence of civilians, many armed, to guard downtown Snohomish as “festive.”

Lovick would benefit from showing more independence from his own party, but he is by far the most qualified to help guide the Legislature through reforming law enforcement. Voters should return him to Olympia for another term.