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Police officer's widow entering political arena

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

Renee Maher, who lobbied the Legislature this year for a law extending benefits for the families of slain police officers such as her late husband, hopes to return there next year as a senator.

Maher announced Monday that she's a Republican candidate for the 30th District seat in the state Senate, now held by Democrat Tracey Eide of Federal Way. Eide is expected to seek a third four-year term in this fall's election.

Perspectives as a 33-year-old member of "Generation X" and a former deputy prosecutor would make her unique to the Senate, Maher contended.

"I can bring new, positive energy," she said.

Maher is the widow of Patrick Maher, who became the first Federal Way Police officer to die in the line of duty when he was shot while trying to arrest a man in 2003. Jason Roberts pleaded guilty to murder in the incident and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Since then, Maher has become an outspoken advocate for law enforcement and for survivors of police officers and firefighters. During the Legislature's 2006 session that ended this month, she wrote to lawmakers and testified in hearings on behalf of legislation that would cover the medical insurance premiums of surviving spouses and dependent children of emergency services personnel killed in the line of duty. Legislation that passed and was still waiting yesterday to be signed into law by the governor was sponsored in the Senate by Eide and co-sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Skip Priest, a Republican from Federal Way.

Working for the legislation inspired her and took her back to her days when she worked for the Hawaii state attorney general before moving to Federal Way with her husband and son, Maher said.

"Helping people is very fulfilling," she said. "Now I want to serve (the 30th District) and help make it a place that we all can be proud of."

Maher said her campaign will focus on the state budget and spending that's "out of control," funding for public schools and ways to enhance public safety.

She said she picked the Republican Party after being asked by members of both political parties to consider running for the Legislature, and she chose to run against Eide because "I can make the most difference in the Senate."

Eide has been in the Senate since 1998 and was a representative in 1993-94. She couldn't be reached for comment Monday on Maher's candidacy.

Maher said she won't attack Eide during the campaign, which will. "We don't agree on all the issues, but she has been around a long time and deserves respect for what she's tried to do," Maher said.

Unless she and Eide have opposition within their own parties in the primary election, they'll point toward a faceoff in the general election in November.

Since her husband's death, Maher has participated in civic and charitable activities, including a trust fund named after her husband that she said donates money to non-profit organizations.

In addition to Federal Way, the 30th District includes Algona and Pacific. Maher lives in Federal Way with her son, Nicholas, 7.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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