Candidate Forum: Three Democratic 32nd District opponents want more money for schools

Monday, July 6, 2020

(Editor’s note: This is part of a series of responses to questions we’re sending to candidates running in the Aug. 4 primary election. We will present responses to our questions from candidates for state representative positions in the 32nd and 46th legislative districts. This question came from a reader. Send future questions for the candidates to

Sutton - Smith - Ryu
By Evan Smith

The three Democrats opposing each other for a 32nd District legislative position all say that they want more money for public schools.

Incumbent Cindy Ryu and challenger Keith Smith both say that the state needs tax reform. 

Challenger Shirley Sutton suggests that the state should start its own bank to save money for schools.

Ryu, Smith and Sutton are running on the Aug. 4 ballot, with the top two candidates advancing to the Nov. 3 general election.

No Republicans or independents filed for the position.

The 32nd District includes Shoreline, part of northwest Seattle, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, south Edmonds, Lynnwood and a small part of Mountlake Terrace.

The three candidates recently sent responses to the question, “How can legislators improve the way we pay for schools?” Here are their responses (presented in the order that their names will appear on the primary ballot and in the voters' pamphlet):

Shirley Sutton (Prefers Democratic Party)

As a Legislator, I will not support funding charter schools. Our public schools need full funding to pay teachers a liveable wage and keep our schools open to educate our children, the next generation.

I support establishing a public bank in Washington state as we pay over one billion dollars to Wall Street for state debt. A state bank would save millions of dollars and keep our state profitable.

Keith Smith (Prefers Democratic Party)

Based on my time as a substitute teacher and a Guardian-ad-Litem visiting 32nd District schools, my top funding priorities are: Special education; paraeducators for 1-on-1 help; fulfilling individualized education plans; and implementing a decades old promise to limit class size.

We need an equitable tax structure to achieve these priorities. The wealthiest need to pay a proportional share of taxes. Educating Washington’s children within a supportive, fully-funded system is the foundation of Washington's successful future.

Cindy Ryu (Prefers Democratic Party)

I support tax reforms that will amply provide for the education of all youth in a way that is just, responsible, and equitable. The wealthy must step up and pay their fair share to support our public schools, colleges, and universities. I support a progressive capital-gains tax. I also support taxation based on net income, but we need a stronger, more progressive Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate.

Evan Smith can be reached at


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