Voters in Seattle’s 36th Legislative District have an outstanding choice to replace outgoing State Rep. Gael Tarleton.

Sarah Reyneveld, a managing assistant state attorney general, Ballard resident and longtime advocate for equity and education in Washington state, should be elected to fill the Position 2 seat.

The 36th District extends from Carkeek Park to Belltown and includes Ballard, Magnolia and Queen Anne. Tarleton is stepping down to run for Secretary of State.

Legislators will face extraordinary challenges during the next term. They must drastically rebalance the budget because revenues are forecast to plunge by $8.8 billion. That will compound ongoing problems like shortcomings in public education and mental-health services.

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Reyneveld, a Democrat, manages state attorneys handling labor issues, including enforcement of wage and employment standards. Previously, she handled medical issues, including state litigation related to opioids, and earlier researched education policy for Gov. Christine Gregoire.

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That depth of knowledge on critical state issues, combined with progressive values aligned with District 36 and a strong commitment to government transparency, should make Reyneveld an outstanding and productive member of the Legislature.

Challenger Liz Berry, a Democrat and Queen Anne resident, also has Olympia experience. Since 2016 she’s been executive director of the powerful lobbying and trade group for trial lawyers, the Washington State Association for Justice. Previously, she ran several political campaigns and was a legislative staffer for Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Questioned by this editorial board about where the Legislature must cut spending because of plunging state revenue, Berry offered unrealistic and ineffective suggestions, such as cutting back on task forces. Berry stated her position more clearly on Twitter, where earlier she tweeted “No Cuts.” That would be nice, but it’s flatly impossible.

Reyneveld said essential services, including education and services for vulnerable populations, must be preserved even if that means some nonessential state employees are let go.

That seems obvious and common sense — with less to spend, it’s only fair to prioritize those most in need. But it’s rare to find Democratic candidates brave enough to say so in Seattle, where political fates are often decided by public-employee unions that oppose any reduction in government spending. Difficult cuts are inevitable, even if taxes increase, and legislators must be realistic about what they’re facing.

Both candidates want to update the state’s tax system and favor a capital-gains tax. Both also want stronger gun laws, including passage of an assault weapons ban.

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And both believe that the Magnolia and Ballard bridges in the 36th District must be rebuilt and are a higher priority for state support than giving Sound Transit additional funding to accelerate the schedule for extending light-rail to Ballard.

Because both are savvy, charismatic candidates who align on many issues, voters should look closely at their experience, skills and ability to collaborate in Olympia.

A third candidate, Jeffrey M. Cohen, has been a Democratic precinct committee officer and community volunteer but does not have the breadth of experience of his opponents.

Vote for Reyneveld, the best choice to represent the 36th District in Position 2.

Correction: This post, originally published July 6, 2020, was updated July 7, 2020. The middle initial in the name of candidate Jeffrey M. Cohen had initially been omitted.