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Oak Harbor woman joins race for seat in Legislature

A North Whidbey Republican active in community affairs has announced her candidacy for the 10th District House seat being vacated by Kelly Barlean.

Barbara Bailey jumped into the race to replace Barlean last week. Barlean is stepping down after two terms to run for Congress.

In the seven years Bailey has lived on Whidbey Island, she's immersed herself in community issues. She presently serves as president of the Oak Harbor Navy League and sits on the executive committee of the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

She decided to enter state politics at a difficult time. The Legislature this winter patched together a budget for the rest of the year, but even at that a deficit of over $1 billion will greet legislators when the next session begins in January 2003.

Bailey seems undaunted by the challenge.

"We need good people in the political process," she said last week. "Lots of qualified people don't necessarily rise to the challenge. If I'm not willing, why expect others to be?"

To date, Bailey is the only Republican to announce she will run for the position. The Democrats are represented by Eron Berg, the mayor of LaConner.

Bailey describes herself as a moderate Republican. The most contentious issue in the last legislative session was whether a gas tax should be approved in Olympia, or passed on to the voters. It was eventually decided to ask the voters for a gas tax hike, and Bailey agrees with that approach.

"I really think the people need to make the decision," she said.

Bailey was the 11th of 13 children born into a farm family in Missouri. She helped raise cotton and soybeans, and says she inherited "a strong work ethic." She worked in the hotel industry in Virginia for years before starting her own company, Bailey & Associates, in 1987. Her company provides public speaking training, seminar development and executive coaching.

Bailey and her husband Butch raised four children, and moved to several different areas of the country during his career in the Navy.

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