Tuesday, July 20

Candidates at the 41st LD Democrats' Picnic

Around 100 Democrats from the 41st Legislative District showed up at a lakefront park in Newcastle this past Sunday to share barbecue and listen to state and local candidates. I caught up with a mix of candidates and campaign coordinators so they could share their take on the races, and what they're doing to get heard.

Candidates running for reelection to a current office are noted below. All others are running for election, some in contested primaries.

Rep. Judy Clibborn: State House of Representatives, 41st, reelection

Clibborn says her main focus is going to people's doors, where she finds that people often know her from mailings. She says that funding education, transportation, and healthcare are the issues she hears most about. According to Clibborn, people were disappointed when two education initiatives, providing for smaller class sizes and cost of living adjustments for teachers, weren't funded in this year's budget. She says people are so interested in seeing something done about transportation that she's heard from constituents who were excited about a $0.05 gas tax which would go to new projects, and is finding more interest in mass transit and alternatives to roads. Clibborn says healthcare is probably something that needs to be handled at the federal level, with the state only able to put bandages on the problem.

She says her time in office has been characterized by working across party lines to get things done. In terms of constituent services, she says her office has worked to let people know she's approachable, and help them with government related case work.

Brian Weinstein: State Senate, 41st LD

The first issue mentioned by Kate Reynolds, Brian Weinstein's campaign manager, was Weinstein's belief in greater education investment. She said he believes schools "shouldn't have to make choices between a language teacher and smaller class sizes." Noting that Microsoft only plans to hire 8% of its future work force from the area, Reynolds said local children need to be ready to take those jobs someday. The Weinstein campaign is interested in looking beyond roads as a solution to transportation issues, such as light rail, more Park & Rides, or other mass transit solutions. Regarding healthcare, Reynolds said it was horrible that children had been kicked off the state healthcare rolls. She said Weinstein was looking at a model followed by Vermont, which offers coverage to everyone under 18.

"Campaigns really succeed because the volunteers get involved and take ownership." She described their doorbelling campaign as "very aggressive," noting that they'd knocked on 10,000 doors so far. They plan to begin phonebanking efforts shortly.

Alex Alben: Congress, 8th Congressional District

Campaign manager Ben Vaught says the campaign has knocked on 2,000 doors in the last week alone, and is raising the kind of money that will be necessary to face the Republican challenger in the fall. He says Alben has been out five or six nights a week trying to meet as many people as he can to find out what they want from a congressman.

Vaught says the main concerns they're hearing from people are the economy and Iraq. He says they've heard concerns about the jobless recovery, and wonder if the fluctuating economy is going to get better. On Iraq, he says people see it as a case where they've been lied to and taken advantage of, much the same as during the Vietnam war. Additionally, Vaught states that not only is Alben a supporter of a woman's freedom of choice, but that he'll stand up to fight for it.

Heidi Behrens-Benedict: Congress, 8th Congressional District

Michael Tivana, Behrens-Benedict's volunteer campaign coordinator says their campaign is going to every event, picnic, or legislative district meeting they can to increase visibility.

Tivana says the campaign's main issues are healthcare and economic development. On health care, he says they're committed to see everyone gets healthcare. We're going to start wi a program to get the corporation to pay their tax fraud money, which is over 300 billion a year, and use that money to start insuring children and work our way on up to get everyone covered." He said a particular focus was women's healthcare, pre-natal care, mammograms. An additional focus is promoting the government's responsibility to create a fertile ground for economic development by helping develop technology, infrastructure, education and venture capital.

Dave Ross: Congress, 8th Congressional District

Leslie Sax, Dave Ross' volunteer coordinator for the 41st. She's never worked for any other campaign, but has been listening to Ross on the air for years. Sax says the campaign has been doorbelling every night in Kent, Issaquah, and Bellevue, and has attended every recent public celebration they could. Viet Shelton, Ross' field director says Ross has personally been out meeting people at their doors, and that the campaign has visited 5,000 homes in the last three weeks.

Sax said Ross' pro-choice stance was important to her, including his support of requiring parental notification. She agrees with his position on the war, that though the country was duped into going in, it's important now to try to rebuild the country and leave as soon as possible. Shelton added that he thought Ross' positions on education, the economy, and the war, are the most closely in line with the 8th Congressional District.

Treasurer Mike Murphy: State Treasurer, reelection

Murphy has been State Treasurer for 7 and 1/2 years, and has worked as a treasurer for 32 years. He says his job is the best one in Olympia, and that "we manage all the money for the state, and we balance to the penny every day." Murphy, with a staff of 70, acts as the banker for Washington State, managing receipts, disbursements, debt, and investment. The treasury office is a Constitutional post in the line of succession after the Lieutenant Governor and the Secretary of State. Murphy says that while he does not yet have an opponent, he expects one, saying that treasurers never run unopposed.

Juanita Doyon: State Superintendent of Schools (nonpartisan)

Doyon said the campaign has been doorbelling all over the state, and reaching out to Democratic and Republican meetings, labor groups, and groups like the Washington Education Association. She says the state superintendent's offic oversees 43% of the state budget, and 296 school districts.

Doyon said one of the biggest issues was de-emphasizing the WASL test, and delink it from the graduation requirement. She opposes charter schools, saying that she thinks it's important to give support to existing neighborhood schools. Doyon says the punitive aspects of the No Child Left Behind act need to be fought. She points out that the graduation rate is now only 66% for all students, 53% for African Americans, and only 48% for Native and Hispanic students. She says it's important to bring vocational education art, and other engaging subjects back into schools instead of just teaching to the test.

Deborah Senn: State Attorney General

Senn says the purpose of the attorney general is to "represent the people of the state." She says the attorney general can oversee predatory lending, see that gasoline prices are fair, deal with identity theft, and advocate for the right to choose. She noted that current Attorney General Christine Gregoire had participated in the tobacco settlement, which has helped the state, as an example of the sort of work the AG's office does. She also cited efforts by the nation's attorneys general to prevent prescription drug companies from blocking cheaper generics.

Another issue she brought up was current U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's recent actions to subpoena individual women's medical records as part of a case that would undermine reproductive choice. She had said earlier that she wouldn't allow private health records to be subpoenaed from this state.

Mark Sidran: State Attorney General

Sidran said he intends to be "wherever two or more are gathered," when it comes to meeting with Democrats across the state. He says it's important to him that the attorney general's office to be the best law firm possible for the state, and that recruiting and retaining quality law staff is an important part of the job.

He says consumer protection and anti-trust are two of the main issues dealt with by the AG's office. He intends to double the number of consumer protection attorneys dealing with consumer protection and identity theft, and create a victim assistance hotline available statewide for internet fraud and identity theft. He says the office could also do more to help local police and prosecutors deal with these issues better. Citing recent corporate crimes like the Enron and Worldcom scandals, he said his experience as a prosecutor would be helpful in handling such cases. Also, he says the attorney general is responsible for enforcing environmental legislation, and acts as the attorney for the Departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and others. He says he'd pick up where current Attorney General Christine Gregoire will leave off with pursuing the Hanford cleanup.

Andrea Darvas: King County Superior Court Judge (nonpartisan)

Darvas says her campaign is a grassroots volunteer effort, and she's been attending numerous district meetings, rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, and other gatherings to meet people personally. As a nonpartisan candidate, she's reached out for endorsements from prominent members of both parties, and 35 sitting judges. She says a lot of people tell her it's difficult to get information about judicial candidates, and thinks it's important to let people know more about her background and what the courts and judges do so they can have better information to base their votes on.

According to Darvas, "The Superior Court is the trial court of general jurisdiction in Washington State. What that means is it hears all criminal felonies, it hears large civil cases, those are lawsuits between businesses, lawsuits over land use, real estate, zoning, injury cases, death cases, family law cases, child custody matters, juvenile justice, and probate. So it's a very broad jurisdiction." She says it's the responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and support individual rights and liberties if the government should infringe on rights such as due process, access to a lawyer, and the right to a trial. Having grown up in a dictatorship, Darvas is committed to ensuring that freedom, the rule of law, and individual liberties are upheld.

She says she's spent 22 years as a courtroom lawyer representing the "demographic breadth of our community." She said that many excellent judicial candidates and sitting judges come from government service backgrounds, but that there's a need to add broader community experience.

Darvas added that she'd run into a lot of confusion over the new primary ballot system that will be in place this year. She said that even though voters had to pick a specific ballot to vote in the partisan races, the judicial candidates would be listed at the bottom of every ballot for everyone to vote on. She says it's important to vote for judicial candidates in the primary because if only two candidates are running, the primary decides the race.

Justice Barbara Madsen: Washington State Supreme Court, reelection (nonpartisan)

Madsen says she's making an effort to attend Legislative District meetings and picnics held by both Democrats and Republicans. She's been speaking with audiences at the Farm Bureau, the Women's Political Caucus, and other groups to work to understand their issues. Madsen's campaign is being managed by daughter Hillary Madsen, Director of Women's Affairs for the Washington State Young Democrats.

Speaking of her time serving in the court, Madsen says, "As a member of the Supreme Court, we have responsibilities outside the courtroom, and that is the administration of justice for the whole state. I'm the chair of the Gender and Justice Commission, which is one of three major commissions for the court. The other is the Minority and Justice Commission, and then the Access to Justice Commission. Each one of these commissions works on discrete issues, but the overall umbrella idea behind these commissions is to make justice more accessible for people in our state. And also to ensure to the extent we can that we have judges who are educated in the law, and educated as to their own biases so that we can make our court bias-free.

"Some of the things that we've done include a unified family court, which essentially guarantees that one judge is going to administer to a family in all of their problems, and all the issues that confront that one family. We can keep the cost down to that family, and we can keep the number of appearances down, so that the family is only required to come one or two times to the court instead of over and over to different judges with dif resp and diff orders that might conflict even.

"Another project the court has undertaken is to put in a courthouse facilitator in every courthouse. A facilitator helps people who are not represented by counsel, so they actually understand what papers they need, where they need to file the papers, how they can set a court date, and just all the procedural aspects of being able to get into the courtroom to see the judge to explain what their issues are. And that's something that's free of charge to members of the public, and it's funded by the state."

Madsen said that another responsibility undertaken by members of the court was personally lobbying state and federal legislators for court funding. She also noted that the court has provided opinions going back to 1889, as well as all court rules and statutes on their website allowing people to learn about the law from home. The full site has been up for a little less than two years, with the extended court opinion archives only becoming available six months ago.

Note: The above candidate statements were from campaigns that had a candidate or representative at the picnic. This posting is not intended to be a full list of candidates running for any office, and readers are encouraged to look into these races in more detail. We will continue posting more campaign statements and interviews as they become available.

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