Voters in the Eastside 41st District should re-elect Steve Litzow to the state Senate.

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STATE Sen. Steve Litzow will face one of the toughest legislative sessions of his political career if voters in the 41st Legislative District re-elect him this fall.

They should, because the Mercer Island Republican has been an effective leader since he was first elected to the Legislature in 2010. His experience is needed as the state enters the home stretch of a long-overdue education-funding overhaul.

Litzow already is a key player. He chairs the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee in the Senate, where his party currently holds the majority. He’s used this perch to advance early childhood programs and education reforms, increase education funding and fund charter schools.

Challenging Litzow is Democrat Lisa Wellman. A former teacher, she has a long background in the technology industry and serving on public boards.

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Steve Litzow

Steve Litzow

41st Legislative District Senate seat

Strengths: Effective leader; has much-needed experience for education funding solutions

Litzow already is a key player. He chairs the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee in the Senate, where his party currently holds the majority. He’s used this perch to advance early childhood programs and education reforms, increase education funding and fund charter schools. ..."

Pressuring incumbents is welcome. But during an interview, Wellman was surprisingly unprepared to discuss education issues in play in recent years.

One sticking point is reforming teachers’ collective bargaining. When the state fully funds basic education, bargaining must be at least partly centralized. Wellman was unsure about this and asked what position teachers unions were taking.

In the bare-knuckle fight ahead over these issues, the 41st District would not be best served by a novice.

Litzow will need to make compromises if re-elected. He’s a fiscal conservative and his party has balked at tax increases needed to amply fund schools.

Proposals floated so far, including local-levy adjustments and a capital-gains tax, would particularly affect the 41st. Like other affluent areas, it’s likely to end up contributing more for education without commensurate increases in local school funding.

Yet Litzow is upfront about this and eager to finish the important job. He estimates the state needs $3 billion more over the next biennium for education, which will include higher property taxes.

Voters in the 41st have been well-served by Litzow and should elect him for another term.