Ephrata Democrat to challenge Manweller

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State Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, will face a Democratic challenger for his seat in the Washington state House of Representatives.

Sylvia Hammond, a Democrat from Ephrata, says that she understands the needs of farmers and farmworkers in the 13th District in a way Manweller doesn’t.

“I don’t know if he’s ever pulled vines from a potato digger,” Hammond said Thursday morning. “I don’t know that he’s ever revived a calf on his kitchen counter half-frozen from the winter weather.”

A retired substitute teacher, Hammond has lived in the rural Ephrata area for 38 years, working the potato fields of her farm for 25 of those years. Hammond’s priorities if she is elected include funding education in rural counties and negotiating trade deals to support central Washington farmers.

“In order for a farmer to survive, they need to be able to sell what they grow,” Hammond said.

Between her five children, Hammond said the time she could dedicate to public service was once limited, but her activism began over 40 years ago when she protested the Vietnam War. More recently, she organized the 2017 Ephrata Women’s March, a local iteration of the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. The Ephrata march drew 300 attendees.

Hammond was the first woman student body president at the Rolla High School in Rolla, Mo., and the first woman elected to a coed position in Brigham Young University’s student government body.

While Hammond said the allegations of sexual misconduct against Rep. Manweller “gives a person pause,” she did not enter the race as a response. The allegations are under investigation, she said, and she does not intend to make them a part of her campaign.

Hammond said it was more important that she feels she has a better sense of the community than Manweller. In response, Manweller said Hammond’s values showed just the opposite.

“She supports gun control, she supports flag protesters, she opposes the federal government’s tax cuts and she wants to impeach the president,” Manweller said Thursday evening.

Hammond was not available to confirm or deny whether this represented her stance on these issues.

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