In his time in the Legislature, Rep. Strom Peterson has proved to be a pragmatic progressive, tackling issues such as the opioid crisis, gun safety and rising rents. Running for his fifth term, he remains the best choice for voters in the 21st Legislative District, which includes Edmonds, Everett and Mukilteo.

A believer in the power of government to effect change, Peterson said he wants to work to continue making progress in addressing the inequities exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic. Among them: poverty, mental health, addiction and housing.

The state needs to invest in people’s financial and housing security, he said, to prevent the spiral of hopelessness that often leads to other societal ills.

“If we can stop that from happening, I think the return is pretty quick on some of the issues around criminality, addiction, depression, all of the things that kind of go with poverty or can go with poverty,” Peterson said.

His support of a top-down approach to housing is troubling, blaming flawed messaging for the pushback from cities on proposed zoning changes, instead of the obvious desire of municipalities to keep local control. However, while Peterson believes the state needs to act, he said lawmakers need to work more closely with affected communities moving forward.

On the issue of public schools, Peterson said equitable funding remains a top concern. On public safety, the incumbent said the Legislature can help support local governments by continuing to make it easier and faster to train officers. He also voted to modify the police pursuit law that some in law enforcement say is overly limiting.

Advertising

Asked where he differs with his party, the Democrat said he puts his conscience and his district over party, but that he is fortunate to be in a “safe” district that aligns with his values.

That safety has allowed Peterson to push for more progressive policies, he said, including passing a plastic bag ban, banning assault rifles and pursuing a guaranteed basic income. It has also, unfortunately, allowed the incumbent to coast, with some of his answers exposing the need to be sharpened by a formidable challenger.

Republican Amy Schaper, who has never met with the board and who ran against Peterson in 2018 before running for the other House seat in 2020, is not that opponent. The candidate’s right-wing beliefs make her a bad fit for the district.

Minor misgivings aside, Peterson is clearly the best candidate for the job.