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Congressional candidates convene for cozy forum

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

It might have been the purest form of campaigning: The candidates and voters at a public meeting room without a moderator or group hosting the gathering.

About 20 people listened to all four candidates for U.S. representative from the Ninth District speak at the Federal Way Regional Library last Friday. The candidates stated their reasons for running, and the audience asked questions.

Adam Smith is the incumbent and has held the position for eight years. He has no fellow Democrats running against him in the primary election Sept. 14.

Two Republicans –– C. Mark Greene and Paul Lord –– face each other in the primary. One will advance to the general election to run against Smith and Robert Losey, the lone Green Party candidate in the race.

Smith is running in 2004 for his fifth two-year term for many of the same reasons he ran the first time, he said.

The congressman said he believes in the political system and has a strong connection with the community, having lived in the area for many years. He said he hopes to be sent back to Washington, D.C. by voters and work in a bi-partisan fashion on legislation.

Lord said he’s running to reduce or remove costs from government and make it more efficient.

Lord, who operates five McDonald’s restaurants, said he doesn’t think any of the candidates have all the answers, but by listening to the public they can find answers. He also told the audience he is promoting his campaign primarily through a Web site and funding it with his own dollars or contibutions from his family.

Greene, the second Republican running for the seat that represents Federal Way and other parts of King and Pierce counties, organized Friday’s event by asking the other candidates if they were willing to speak and answer questions.

He opened the meeting, calling for a moment of silence in memory of the people killed in Russia earlier that day during a hostage situation at a school.

Greene spoke against the war in Iraq, saying it was a “quagmire” and calling for Congress to have control over responding to terrorists. He also said he favors a trade policy that considers the environment and labor.

Losey, the Green Party candidate, said the two major political parties of his opponents are ineffective. He also said he’s interested in promoting social justice and not catering to corporations.

Losey questioned why there is support for a free-market economy but not a free-market political system. He said he supports publicly financed political campaigns and universal healthcare.

Lord said he favors the war in Iraq and that it was justified because Saddam Hussein, the country’s now-deposed dictator, had supported terrorists. He reminded the audience that President George W. Bush told other countries publicly they were either on the side of the United States or supporting terrorists.

Smith countered, saying Bush squandered much of the support toward the U.S. following 9-11 by playing “fast and loose” with facts justifying action against Iraq and having an arrogant attitude.

Resources that could be better-used tracking down terrorist leader Osama bin Laden are going to Iraq because the Bush administration is mostly interested in the country’s oil, Losey said.

On the economy and healthcare front, Greene said the U.S. needs to live within its means, much like a household spends only what it has in the bank. “Maybe it’s time to do without pie-in-the-sky Star Wars systems,” he said.

A sound fiscal policy would help provide good healthcare, Greene said.

Lord wasn’t sure the government could do much to help the economy. Rather, he said, entrepreneurs can keep the economy running. He also pointed to high state minimum wage laws as driving away business.

Putting everyone on the federal healthcare system that he uses would help the current situation, Smith said.

It’s not a “five-star plan,” Smith said, and it would cost users a monthly fee just like healthcare is deducted from their paychecks now. But it would be less expensive –– around $200 –– and wouldn’t mean the creation of a new bureaucracy, he claimed.

Several people in the audience nodded or voiced their approval.

Smith also suggested the federal government cover catastrophic healthcare over $50,000 because it is 20 percent of the healthcare costs, but 1 percent of those needing medical aid.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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