6 September 1996 Candidates court rural vote in Aberdeen

By Doug Barker, Daily World copy editor
The Daily World

Of the 15 candidates running for governor, only Republicans Norm Maleng and Pam Roach, and Democrat Mohammad Said, a doctor from Ephrata, made it to the League of Women Voters gubernatorial candidate forum at the Bishop Center in Aberdeen Thursday night.

Three others, Republican Dale Foreman and Democrats Jay Inslee and Gary Locke, sent representatives to stand in for them.

While most of the A List candidates will stick to the populous Puget Sound communities down the campaign stretch, Maleng, the King County Prosecutor, says he’ll venture out of what Sen. Slade Gorton called the donut hole of King County. Gorton used that strategy successfully in 1994, courting rural voters.

“It’s very important for me to be here tonight, because I think the election will be decided by counties like Grays Harbor,” said Maleng, who talked about his upbringing on a dairy farm near Acme in Whatcom County.

Roach, a state senator from Auburn, said she, too, has rural credentials, representing rural areas of King and Pierce Counties.

Said, who is running a shoestring campaign with $15,000 of his own money, said League of Women Voters forums are one of the few ways he can get his message out.

About two dozen people attended the forum. They were allowed to submit written questions, and most of the queries were about federally-driven welfare reform that will push recipients to work and limit the number of years someone can receive benefits.

Roach said she understands that the federal legislation will set aside 20 percent of the benefits for those who, for physical or mental reasons, are unable to hold a job.

Roach said she would reorganize the Department of Social and Health Services, attack welfare fraud, go after “dead-beat dads” and equalize welfare payments with surrounding states so Washington isn’t a “magnet state” for people looking for higher welfare payments.

Maleng said he favors time limits on welfare. He said he would dismantle the “dysfunctional” Department of Social and Health Services and combine portions of it with the Department of Employment Security to create a new Department of Labor that could better deal with welfare-to-work laws.

Said, who came close to stealing the show with some fresh ideas and disarming admissions of ignorance when he was unfamiliar with a topic, said he would support programs to help people find work and get off welfare, subsidize their costs for housing, day care and other needs while they were in transition, but he wouldn’t put a limit on the number of years someone could receive welfare.

Maleng said he is running for governor “not just to change the size of government, but to change the direction of government so it reflects our values and principles.” He said he sees those values reflected in rural communities such as Grays Harbor and rural Whatcom County, where he grew up.

Roach focused on her conservative message, saying she would be a staunch protector of private property rights, stress the “3 R’s” in education and oppose “feel-good programs like outcome-based education and a social studies curriculum that tells students what’s wrong with America and not what’s right” and protection of gun-owners’ rights.

“And if I’m governor, there will be no same-sex marriages,” she said.