By SERAINE PAGE | For the Independent
The League of Women Voters of Kitsap County held a forum Oct. 11 for the 26th Legislative District state Senate debate.
Audience members were handed index cards to write questions down for the candidates. Ann Smith, president of the League of Women Voters of Kitsap County, acted as the moderator for the evening, reading off questions to the participating parties.
Each candidate had two minutes for opening and closing remarks, and one-and-a-half minutes to respond to the questions. Prior to wrapping up with closing statements, the candidates also had an opportunity to respond to their opponents statements or to further comment on an issue they felt needed more explanation.
The event, held in the city council chambers at the Norm Dicks Government Center, filled quickly for the first event, the 26th Legislative District state Senate debate. For the second half of the forum — the Bremerton School board candidates — most of the audience cleared out, leaving a handful of people in the room.
State Rep. Jan Angel and Senator Nathan Schlicher took to the microphones first, starting off with opening statements.
Schlicher went first, describing his progress as freshman senator and his desire to get back to the Capitol for more.
“I believe firmly that we need at least one doctor in Olympia,” the Bremerton native said. “I’ve since come to believe that it’s probably a psychiatrist that we need, but that’s a whole other conversation.”
His comment elicited laughter from the audience.
Angel approached her first statement with a little more history of where she came from and her variety of previous jobs. The representative also told the audience that getting people back to work is a priority if she’s elected.
“We gotta get people working again,” she said. “We gotta get this economy back on track. If we get government off the back of our local business people. I firmly believe we can do that with a snowball effect.”
Questions ranged from the federal shutdown impacts on the local economy to health care, which Schlicher surprisingly pointed out no one had asked about in any previous debates.
Both agreed the shutdown is a disaster, and that it immediately impacts the Bremerton and surrounding areas due to the city’s military bases.
“I tell ya, I am personally appalled,” she said of the shutdown. Angel stated that the government should be ashamed of their doings when death benefits cannot even be paid to those who served in the military and have recently deceased.
”I don’t agree with what is happening there,” she said. “When you have issues this important I feel like the American people and the people in our district are being held hostage.”
Schlicher noted his brother-in-law is a Stennis sailor, but that many other areas outside of the military are impacted.
“I agree, this shutdown is a mess. It is the disfunction we see in politics far too often now,” he said. “But there are other areas that are being impacted.”
Schlicher went on to mention the problem with cutbacks like SNAP and WIC for low-income families in need of nutritious meals and other services. He also stated that funding for WIC is due to run out shortly, another reason politicians need to get working.
For closing statements, both touted their experiences, Angel on her 30 years of working and living in the region, and Schlicher on his experience as a doctor who moves bills through in arenas like health care.