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Candidate forum provides questions and answers

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By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

Political talk was the order of the night on the Plateau for a couple of hours Thursday during a candidate forum at Green River Community College Center in Enumclaw.

Both District 31 state representatives, Dan Roach, Bonney Lake, and Jan Shabro, Lake Tapps, joined a handful of candidates to talk politics and answer questions from the audience.

Roach is seeking his third term in Olympia and Shabro is running for her second. Both are running unopposed.

The audience was a combination of Green River Community College students, Enumclaw High School students and citizens from the area. The candidates fielded an array of well-informed questions from both the students and older folks.

King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, a Republican seeking the 8th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, attended the forum.

Reichert is in a tight race with Democrat Dave Ross, a KIRO radio personality, for the seat previously held by Bellevue Republican Jennifer Dunn.

This is a closely watched race around the country with the Republicans trying to maintain control of the House, and the Democrats pushing to gain majority status again.

Republican Rob McKenna joined the group. He is running for attorney general in a tight race against Democrat Deborah Senn.

Both are trying to replace the current attorney general and candidate for the governor's chair, Christine Gregoire.

McKenna is a practicing attorney and a member of the Metropolitan King County Council.

Secretary of state hopeful Laura Ruderman could not make the forum, nor could Doug Sutherland, who is trying for his second four-year term as commissioner of public lands. Both sent representatives to speak in their place.

Deborah Senn was scheduled to be at the gathering, but she didn't show nor send a spokesperson.

McKenna pointed out Senn had missed a number of forums where they were both scheduled to speak.

Topics and questions ranged from local to world events, from transportation to Iraq.

McKenna pointed to meth labs, identity theft, domestic violence and tort reform as key issues to his campaign.

"Meth is devastating our rural areas of Washington," McKenna said. "We find children from meth houses. They're unwashed with trace chemicals from the meth labs in their bodies. This is a very serious problem."

Reichert spoke about his life and what led him to run for political office.

"I wasn't the best student," Reichert said. "But I learned to surround myself with the best people. And now all of a sudden I find myself running for office."

He listed homeland security, fixing the economy and traffic as key elements he will work on if sent to Washington D.C.

When asked about the decision to invade Iraq, he said being a Monday morning quarterback is easy.

"I believe President Bush made the right decision," Reichert said "The fact is, today we are there. What do we do today?"

Roach highlighted balancing the state budget and bringing more revenue by improving the business climate as important issues when he returns to Olympia in January.

"There are basically two ways to balance the budget," he said. "Raise taxes or bring more revenue in through businesses."

Shabro stated getting on the transportation committee was her first choice when she went to Olympia last year. Transportation and the economy will be top priorities for her when she heads back to Olympia.

"It is so important to have good transportation," Shabro said. "It is critical to turning this economy around."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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