Governor says no negative ads

"Photo: Gov. Locke's appearance drew Democratic candidates from throughout the island. At left is Rep. Dave Anderson, to Locke's left is Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, and at right is Lynne Wilcox, candidate for Island County Commissioner from Oak Harbor.Jim Larsen/staff photoGov. Gary Locke told a crowd of Democratic admirers in Freeland Thursday that he will never run a negative campaign ad ever in his life.Speaking at historic Freeland Hall during a fund raiser for Rep. Dave Anderson, D-Clinton, Locke was responding to a TV ad campaign by the Republican party. In one ad, Locke's policies as governor are linked to the death of a child who was killed by her own abusive mother after the child was returned to the mother's custody by the Department of Social and Health Services.While Locke considers the ad campaign negative, he won't answer in kind. But he did not defend the DSHS decision in this particular case, attributing it to bad law. He said state law requires that children be returned to their parents' custody whenever possible, or the parents can sue the state.We're all shocked at the death of any child, Locke said. State law says we're supposed to reunite kids with parents or we'll be sued. But he disagreed with court decisions requiring that policy. I don't care what the court says, he said, pausing immediately to rephrase the comment to notwithstanding what the court says. Regardless, he made it clear that he thinks the policy that resulted in the child's death is wrong and should be changed.Locke flew in to the gathering of about 150 Democrats who paid $25 a plate for a grilled salmon lunch. His float plane landed in Holmes Harbor and he was driven to the historic wooden hall by a State Patrol officer. He was accompanied by a single aide, and explained that he hurriedly left Seattle after introducing Vice President Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, at a rally there.The governor's presence on Whidbey Island while Gore was in the area underscores the importance of the race two-term incumbent Anderson in involved in. I would have come even if I'd had to walk off the podium with the vice president, Locke said.Last legislative session, the state House was evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, so one seat can decide the majority next session. And Anderson has a high profile, experienced challenger in Barry Sehlin, R-Oak Harbor, who held the same seat for six years before voluntarily stepping down. Sharing in Anderson's benefit dinner was State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, who was also strongly endorsed by Locke. While waiting for the governor the crowd was entertained by a trio called The Rural Characters (Tom Fisher, Randy Hudson and Gordon Adams) who sang a paean to Anderson to the tune of John Denver's Rocky Mountain High. Sample lyric: He's a Whidbey Island Democratic guy.Locke breezed into the building, shook dozens of hands on his way to the stage, and waited several minutes for Anderson to finish his pitch to the already-converted. Anderson called for more environmental protection, better control on growth, improved transportation, and better health services to the elderly -- themes echoed minutes later by Locke.Locke termed the 2000 election as a fork in the road, with the Democrats leading citizens to a better future in 25 to 50 years, in his view. Washington will be a great place to live and work and raise a family, with jobs to support them, he said. And the wild salmon will be back.He also plugged his new prescription drug plan for seniors 55 and older. When the paperwork is finished in January, all seniors can join the state health care plan and save 15 to 50 percent on prescriptions, he said, because the state buys drugs in bulk for its employees and those under its care.Answering questions from the audience, Locke did not take a position on the proposed Orca Natural Gas Pipeline across Whidbey Island. But he said whether it is allowed should be a state, not a federal decision, and that environmental concerns would be listened to in the state permitting process.Locke's appearance was the first time in many years that a sitting governor has made an official visit to South Whidbey Island. Elsie Olkonen, matriarch of South Whidbey Democrats, couldn't remember the last such visit. "

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