Twenty-two years is a long time for anyone to serve in Washington’s Legislature.

But state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos should be reelected to serve yet another term representing District 37, which covers an area from Seattle’s Central District to Renton.

While this editorial board does not always agree with Tomiko Santos, a former banker and nonprofit manager, she is the best option in the race for Position 1.

High-school history teacher and Democratic precinct officer John Stafford is running against fellow Democrat Tomiko Santos with a largely self-funded campaign. While Stafford is well-informed, he lacks experience.

Seattle Times editorial board endorsements: Election 2020

During a meeting with this editorial board, Stafford was intensely focused on several bills that Tomiko Santos did not sponsor, including an environmental measure sponsored by a District 37 state senator.

Two other challengers, William Burroughs and John Dickinson, had not reported raising a single dollar last week. Dollars don’t equate to qualification, but zero donations right before ballots are mailed indicates a lack of district support and campaign effort.


There is a plentiful record of how Tomiko Santos performed in Olympia since 1998 for challengers to mine.

For instance, during the tenure of Tomiko Santos as House Education chair, the state Supreme Court found the Legislature in contempt for dismal progress on McCleary school-funding reforms. A group of four Democrats, not including Tomiko Santos, and four Republicans hammered out a solution that passed in 2017.

A cornerstone of McCleary reforms was capping the size of local levies. That’s needed to ensure basic-education, which is state funded, is equitable and not skewed in favor of property-rich districts. Yet a bill breaking that commitment, and allowing higher local levies, sailed through the House last year with Tomiko Santos’ support.

In their next session, legislators should be addressing social-justice issues that are a priority for Tomiko Santos and her diverse constituency. Voters in District 37 should vote for her.