Published: September 21, 2016, 6:03AM
Because of the growth he has demonstrated as a lawmaker and a demeanor that focuses upon solutions rather than rhetoric, Brandon Vick has earned a return to Olympia as state representative from the 18th District, Position 1.
Vick, R-Felida, is facing a worthy opponent in Vancouver Democrat Justin Oberg, as he seeks a third term in the Legislature. But his demonstrated interest in working for the benefit of constituents and his demonstrated diligence in taking the job seriously leave few valid reasons for removing him from office. Therefore, Vick has earned the recommendation of The Columbian’s Editorial Board. As always, this is merely a recommendation designed to foster discussion. The Columbian has faith in the ability and the desire of voters to examine the issues and the candidates before making an informed decision.
In examining this race, voters will find that Vick is a hard-working lawmaker who is attentive to the needs of his community. He has sponsored six bills that have become law, focusing primarily upon supporting the needs of small businesses — which is understandable given his experience with his family’s landscaping business. He serves on numerous committees plus the Legislative Ethics Board, and rightly boasts about never having missed a vote during his time in Olympia.
Oberg also is deserving of a close look from voters. A newcomer to politics, he presents ideological differences when compared with Vick and gives the electorate a reasonable alternative in this race:
• Vick supports Washington’s current system for determining the minimum wage, one that calls for cost-of-living increases each year. Oberg supports a large statewide increase.
• Vick opposes Initiative 732 on the November ballot, a measure that would impose a carbon emissions tax. Oberg favors a carbon tax.
• Vick believes a levy swap — increasing the state portion of property taxes while reducing local school levies — would be adequate for fully funding K-12 education. He also praises the Legislature for increasing funding in recent years — increases that The Columbian believes have been inadequate. Oberg believes the closing of some corporate tax loopholes is necessary to raise funding for education.
• Vick supports reconstruction of the Interstate 5 Bridge before attention turns a third bridge across the Columbia River — as long as the project includes improvements throughout the I-5 corridor. Oberg supports an I-5 bridge that is capable of carrying light rail in the future and notes, “We need to repair relationships across the river. In my mind, that means new faces, new ideas.”
There is some validity to that point, but we don’t see Vick as being part of the problem. For example, in speaking to the Editorial Board about carbon emissions and energy production, he said, “As we do regulate a little more, which isn’t always a bad thing.” This is a welcome departure from the frequent Republican mantra that all regulations are inherently job-killing endeavors.
Overall, Vick is a thoughtful lawmaker and a strong representative for the 18th District. We would recommend, however, that whichever candidate lands in Olympia, he should develop a coalition with other local legislators in order to work for the benefit of the region. The delegation has been fragmented for too long, to the detriment of Clark County.
Vick is the strongest candidate to forge the synergy necessary to effectively represent the 18th District.