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Originally published Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:03 AM

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Editorial: Eric Pettigrew, Daniel Bretzke in the 37th Legislative District

State Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, should be re-elected to represent Position 2 in the 37th Legislative District. Daniel Bretzke is recommended for Position 1.


Seattle Times Editorial

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THE 37th Legislative District has a strong, independent-minded advocate in Eric Pettigrew. Voters should re-elect the South Seattle Democrat for state representative in Position 2.

After 12 years in office, Pettigrew has carved a niche for himself as a contrarian yet affable legislator — one whom his House Democratic peers trust enough to serve as the third highest-ranking leader and head of the caucus.

Pettigrew takes positions that are not always popular but necessary to help the diverse people of his district — including a high concentration of impoverished families, students of color, immigrants and ex-prisoners.

As the Legislature searches for billions more in additional funding to satisfy the requirements of the Supreme Court 2012 McCleary education ruling, Pettigrew is a critical voice calling for accountability and reforms. With numerous failing schools in his district, he says the state cannot afford to throw more money at a system that is not producing better outcomes.

He has backed that talk with meaningful legislation focused on closing student achievement gaps over protecting administrative and union priorities.

Unfortunately, his efforts are often stymied by his own seatmate, state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle. As chair of the House Education Committee, she consistently blocks reform bills. Her voting record falls right in line with some of the state’s most powerful special-interest groups.

The district should replace Tomiko Santos in Position 1 with Daniel Bretzke, a moderate Republican and three-decade resident of South Seattle who wants to work with Pettigrew — not against him.

One area where Pettigrew shows a surprising lack of leadership is in his refusal to take a position on Initiative 1351. He knows the teachers union ballot measure to reduce class size would add to the burden of funding education.

On other issues, Pettigrew is right in line with his constituents. He wisely supports common-sense background checks for gun purchases and is sensitive to the possible effects of raising the minimum wage for nonprofits and small business owners whose voices were drowned out during the City of Seattle’s wage debate.

His opponent, Tamra Smilanich, did not respond to The Times’ requests for an editorial board meeting.

Voters should keep Pettigrew in office.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



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