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McMahan happy to run on her record

In the 24 years since Lois McMahan moved her family to Washington state’s 26th District from Nebraska, she said she’s seen some troubling changes.

“Some of the things that were happening really bothered me,” McMahan said. “I wanted leaders with integrity. It comes to a point where you must ask yourself, ‘If not you, who would it be?’ ”

McMahan said her commitment to politics and personal integrity was reaffirmed years later on a trip to Washington, D.C., in the early 1990s.

“I was just so impressed with the commitment and integrity of our founding fathers,” McMahan said.

But McMahan said her interest in politics started when she was very young.

“I’ve always been interested in what was happening in the country,” McMahan said. “I come from a large family. We talked politics at almost every meal.”

Now, with a large family of her own, she is running to protect her seat in the state House of Representatives and defend decisions she made in her most recent term.

McMahan concedes the issues are numerous and the scope of what needs to be done in the district is vast.

She said a priority in her past term was transportation and she looks to continue the progress she made moving up construction on the Burley-Olalla Interchange by one year.

She said she is passionately committed to seniors and will continue to work to increase seniors’ income level and decrease property taxes.

“We have a lot of (seniors) here on fixed incomes,” McMahan said. “(And) property ownership is very important to them.”

According to McMahan, she met many seniors during door-belling campaigns who were putting their houses up for sale because they couldn’t afford the taxes.

McMahan also lists the small business owner at the top of her legislative priority list.

“Nobody has a better business record than me,” McMahan said. “I know that small businesses are the backbone of the 26th (District). I have sponsored many bills to make the state more business friendly.”

McMahan has also worked for L&I reform, worker’s compensation reform and tort reform, as well as to reduce insurance premiums and paperwork in several arenas.

She speaks against tort reform in the respectful, yet authoritative voice that could be only that of a former elementary school teacher.

“The only answer is to lower the threat of these frivolous lawsuits,” McMahan said, contending it is the taxpayers and consumers are paying for suits brought against local government agencies and businesses.

“Everybody pays for these costs,” McMahan said.

But the most heartwrenching tales she hears of her constituents, she said, are those of children taken advantage of by predatory adults.

McMahan said when her hearing on the Child Protection Act of 2004 was canceled, she went straight to the voters through the airwaves.

“I found other ways of (getting it passed),” McMahan said.

McMahan went on the radio twice to inform the public of the potential law and speed the process.

McMahan said as a result of her commitment to children, the hearing was held and the Act was eventually signed into law by Gov. Gary Locke last March.

“I just asked (my fellow legislators), ‘What is a child worth?’ ” she said.

Her belief in children extends to her views on education.

“My goal has always been to get state education dollars down to the classroom,” McMahan said.

However, she’s taken some heat, mostly, she said, from her political opponents regarding her rejection of a popular healthcare bill.

McMahan said her beliefs will not be compromised and if she doesn’t belive a bill will be effective in helping her constituents, she is a “no” vote — even if she knows she will be in the minority.

“My principles are strong,” McMahan said. “I’m not afraid of criticism. I’m unwilling to be disingenuous, dishonest.”

McMahan said the bill was promising seniors something it could not deliver.

“They need something real, not something phony,” McMahan said. “I’m more afraid of being dishonest with the district than being criticized.”

But for now, McMahan said she feels good about the race and her chances against Democratic candidate Derek Kilmer in November.

“I feel really good about the election,” McMahan said. “I’m not taking anything for granted; we’re still working hard.”

McMahan said she is especially proud that every bill she’s introduced has been a result of an issue she heard from a constituent in the district.

“My husband and I decided we were going to make people our lives,” she said, “and my legislative career is just an extension of that.”

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