10th District Senate race reflects the national theme

It’s experience versus change. Sound familiar?

Republican Linda Haddon of Oak Harbor is challenging longtime incumbent Democrat Mary Margaret Haugen in the 10th Legislative District Senate race.

Haugen, 67, of Camano Island, has been in the state Legislature for 26 years, the past 15 in the Senate.

Haddon, 60, a longtime businesswoman and community activist, is a relative newcomer to politics. A former Island County planning commissioner, she was part of the 1991 community task force that helped prevent the closure of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Haugen has stressed her experience and the working relationships she has developed in Olympia and elsewhere that allow her to deliver the goods for her district.

Haddon praised Haugen’s service, but said it’s time for an infusion of new ideas.

“We need a fresh approach and better representation for the people of the district,” Haddon said. “I will listen to their concerns and help them with solutions.”

And she added, “I also am not going to Olympia to become a career politician. I believe in term limits.”

“The most important issue in my race is experience,” Haugen responded. “I know how the Legislature works. I have a record of success.”

She said that being chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee “puts me in a position to see that the ferry system remains a high priority in the overall transportation budget.”

The state of the ferry system, especially the Keystone-Port Townsend run, helped push Haddon into the race, she said.

“For 20 years we have known the boats needed to be replaced,” Haddon said. “Planning, maintenance and seamless transition into new vessels should have happened. It didn’t.”

Haugen said Island County won’t escape the mounting economic problems facing the nation, and she’s in a position to help.

“The state is facing a shortfall caused by a national economy in distress,” Haugen said. “We will need to make cuts to assure a balanced budget.”

“First we need to look at new programs that were enacted, but not funded,” she added. “Then, we need to look at existing programs. My priorities are education and taking care of those who can’t care for themselves.”

“We also need to look for opportunities for economic stimulation through investment in clean energy and other technologies that will create new jobs,” Haugen said.

Haddon said the most important economic issue is “the tremendous deficit we are facing in the state budget cycle.”

“Spending at 2½ times the rate of revenue is financial suicide,” she said. “We can’t do that in our private lives, and the state and/or federal government shouldn’t do it either.”

Haddon said she would support county commissioners in dealing with economic problems.

“We will have to adjust spending,” she said. “There will be some tough decisions. We must be willing to cut the budget if necessary. Hopefully, we will be able to make adjustments without too much pain.”

Education also is a priority for Haddon.

“Our state Constitution mandates we fund education,” she said. “Where does the money go? We need to examine the entire system and see to it that tax dollars flow down to where they are needed.”

Haddon came to Whidbey Island with her first husband, who was in the Navy. When he died at a young age, she started three social service agencies dedicated to helping widowed people work through the grief process.

She is a certified “life celebrant” who conducts weddings, memorials and funerals. Her husband, Jim, manages a funeral home in Oak Harbor.

She is a member of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Navy League and Soroptimists.

Haugen was born on an Island County farm. She started a small business out of her home which she ran for 20 years while raising a family.

Beginning in 1972, she served three terms on the Stanwood school board. In 1982, she was elected to the state House of Representatives, and to the state Senate in 1993, where she also is a member of the consumer protection and housing committees.

Campaign contributions played a big part in the primary, a three-way race in which Haugen received 53 percent of the vote, and Haddon 42 percent.

At one point, an unsubstantiated claim surfaced that Haugen was using state funds in her campaign, which she vigorously denied. Haddon, meanwhile, received substantial support from the Washington Oil Marketers Association and other special interest groups.

The Washington Public Disclosure Commission reports that as of Tuesday, Haugen had raised

$209,496 and spent $104,109. Haddon has raised $131,912 and spent $73,715.

“My contributions, for the most part, are coming from individuals — people just like you and me,” Haddon said. “PACs (political action committees) and lobbyists tend to support incumbents. I am very grateful to the folks who make up our district for their support.”

“My contributors reflect my record,” Haugen said. “I am known as a problem solver who is willing to work across party lines to get the job done. As a result,

I receive contributions from our largest employers in the state and from the small businesses in my district, professional groups, doctors, healthcare providers, fire and law enforcement, labor, farmers and many other groups.”

Haugen said she will continue to work for local economic development, property tax reform, farmland preservation, the cleanup of Puget Sound and affordable and accessible healthcare.

“I have a solid record of achievements and have established myself as an honest, hardworking legislator who always puts my district first,” she said.

“I work with the citizens in our district every day in my job, Haddon said. I will continue in my work and stay in tune and in touch with ‘real folks.’”

The 10th Legislative District includes all of Island County and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties.

Roy Jacobson can be reached at 221-5300 or

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