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Candidates face off at forum in Arlington

SMOKEY POINT — Even with the absence of three candidates, the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce’s political luncheon struggled to fit speaking time for all of its candidates into its hour-long schedule Oct. 12.

Although they didn’t answer questions, Micah Paulsen delivered a speech for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, while Larry Stickney did the same for John Koster, who’s running against U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen. Dino Rossi, Murray’s challenger, did not attend or send a spokesperson.

Responding to written questions submitted by the audience, Larsen stated that the Bush tax cuts should continue for the middle class, to “focus on the folks who do the spending.” He expressed support for re-instituting the “pay as you go” spending rule, which expired in 2002, that he credited with creating a budget surplus before. He also pledged to suspend pay raises for members of Congress.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders defended his record from challenger Charlie Wiggins, who accused Sanders’ opinions of favoring the accused in 94 percent of his cases. Sanders countered that his opinions corresponded to those of a majority of the state Supreme Court 70 percent of the time. However, both agreed that trimming the courts’ budget would broaden inequities suffered by the economically disadvantaged in the justice system.

“There’s simply not any fat left to trim,” Sanders said.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe faced some heat of his own from challenger Jim Kenny, who asserted that the county Prosecutor’s Office was a common denominator in a number of sexual harassment investigations that he deemed badly handled. Kenny also accused Roe of accepting campaign donations from someone that his office had prosecuted.

Roe responded by estimating that he’d received $17,000 in campaign contributions so far, and had no idea who his largest contributor was. He then cited his record of “investing in Snohomish County” through his advocacy for crime victims, including those of domestic violence, and his involvement in Cocoon House.

State Rep. Barbara Bailey and her opponent, Tom Riggs, agreed on the need to invest in the state ferry system and in the creation of jobs within the state. State Rep. Dan Kristiansen and his opponent, Eleanor Walters, likewise both acknowledged the need for budget cuts, with Kristiansen warning against raising taxes on those who are already struggling, and Walters describing a 6 percent across-the-board cut as a start in the right direction.

Laura Lewis accused her opponent, state Rep. Norma Smith, of voting against bills that would have helped businesses, but agreed with her that the state has badly managed the ferry system. Smith pledged to invest in small businesses and to work toward a balanced budget without increasing taxes.

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