Candidates speak at annual Edmonds forum

32nd District candidates speak Thursday night. (Photo courtesy of Shoreline Area News)

More than 30 candidates for U.S. Senate and Congress, State Senator and Representative, County Prosecutor and State Supreme Court Judge gave voters a chance to briefly hear their views, all part of the annual candidates forum put on in Edmonds Tuesday night by the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County, American Association of University Women, Edmonds Branch and Edmonds United Methodist Church.

Each candidate was allowed two minutes to present a prepared statement, and then was given a question to answer in one minute or less.

Those running as challengers for state and federal legislative positions repeated a common theme aimed squarely at their incumbent opponents: Government is a mess, spending is out of control and a change in leadership is necessary.

“We need to cut down the size and reach of the federal government,” declared James “Skip” Mercer, who is running against Patty Murray for U.S. Senate.

“The economic crisis has been caused by cheap money and easy credit,” said Matthew Burke, a Republican candidate for the Congressional District 1 seat held by Jay Inslee.

“We cannot spend our way out of debt,” added David Schirle, an independent also vying for Inslee’s job.

“I’m concerned about the heavy levels of debt we are amassing,” said Ed Borey, who is running against incumbent State Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, a Democrat in 21st District Position 1.

Incumbents, on the other hand, took an opportunity to tout their accomplishments while also offering some solutions of their own.  Sen. Murray did not appear at the forum (and neither did her main Republican challengers, Dino Rossi and Clint Didier), but Inslee, a Democrat, did stop by to share his views, to the delight of many in the audience who gave him enthusiastic applause.

Inslee spent most of his two minutes talking about his childhood, his school-teacher father who instilled in him a strong work ethic, and his commitment to “always do his best” in every job he’s every had. At the end, he pointed out that he had voted against the government’s TARP legislation and also opposed the country’s decision to invade Iraq.

21st District Position 2 State Rep. Marko Liias (D) told the crowd of about 300 Tuesday night that he was “proud of the job we’ve done in Olympia,” including efforts to protect fundamental priorities such schools, senior services and transportation projects.

Maralyn Chase, 32nd District State Senator (D) said it’s key that the state Legislature focus on tax reform, adding “I believe we have a revenue crisis, not a budget crisis.”

32nd District Position 2 State Rep. Ruth Kagi (D) acknowledged “we are facing tough choices in Olympia.” However, she added, “we need creative thinking, we do not need slash and burn.”

The issue of gay marriage was raised in a question posed by League of Women Voters moderator Cheryl Ricevuto, who asked candidates their opinions about a federal judge’s decision to overturn California’s Proposition 8. Elizabeth Scott, a Republican candidate running for Liias’ 21st District seat, said that she supported gay partnership but not marriage, then wondered why that question was asked Tuesday night when the main issue that voters are concerned about is the economy.

“I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman,” said Alan Tagle, a Republican who is also seeking Liias’ seat.

Liias responded that “the government shouldn’t decide who should love one another.”

Art Coday, who is running for the 32nd District representative seat as a Republican, said he also subscribed to the view that marriage is between a man and a woman. “I have nothing against people with alternative lifestyles,” Coday said. “I think marriage is the backbone of society.”

For a list of all the candidates and issues on the primary election ballot, you can access the voter’s pamphlet online only. If you would like to see candidate statements for just the offices that will be on your ballot, you can visit the My Vote application.

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