Rolfes, Lowe square off sans cameras


If you read body language the way debate coaches do, one thing obvious at the debate between state Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, 41, and her Republican challenger Mark Lowe, 43, is that if you tied her hands together she couldn’t talk.

And if you tied his feet together, he couldn’t talk.

Now, as I understand it, according to another guest at the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues forum, Lowe is disabled, although it was not obvious. He told me he got into the habit of those little short walks back and forth in a confined space during his 24 years in the Navy.

What Rolfes’ problem is I don’t know, but for awhile I thought she was trying to do sign language in addition to speaking in case there were any hearing-challenged members of the audience.

James Olsen of Shining City Media wanted to film the debate and provide it to Bainbridge Island Television 4000 at no cost, but chamber emcee Silvia Klatman said no because it was OK with Lowe but not with Rolfes. He has taped previous meetings.

When Olsen raised the issue during questioning, Klatman shut him down. Later, Rolfes was asked why she objected to being filmed and she said, “You know, I wouldn’t mind if I had been told prior to getting here. Frankly, I don’t want the camera on my face the entire time I am talking. I have a record of being transparent, but I am not comfortable being filmed.” Finally, a politician who admits you can see right through her.

Lowe kicked things off by accusing Rolfes of helping King County with its problems and not Kitsap. She said she froze ferry fares, worked to bring back the passenger only ferries, improved mathematics and science standards in school and “served Kitsap County really well.”

What did they think of a recent court decision that Indian tribes do not have an obligation to collect taxes for sales on the reservation to non Indians? Rolfes said she did not support black listing the tribes by cities and counties because the tribes are sovereign governments. Lowe said the tribes need to be part of the community and treaties should be looked at to develop better partnerships.

Neither of them liked WASL. She said she supported replacing it with more standardized tests, but it has been streamlined so it’s clearer and takes less time. He said it “takes forever to grade this beast, this elephant.”

Would you advocate in the $700 billion bailout of the housing crisis that they include the state and local jurisdictions as beneficiaries of money? He said the feds were bailing out institutions that made bad business decisions. She said contact Dicks and Inslee.

Would you vote against any new taxes or for the release of state employees, considering 70 percent of the education budget is for teachers’ salaries? Lowe said no new taxes and the state added 3,000 new jobs last year. He’d save millions by privatizing liquor sales.

“Before that, talk to MADD,” Rolfes said. “We are required by state law to pass a balanced budget. This is not an economy for raising taxes.”

TV man Olsen stayed to the end, camera off. Asked why he thought Rolfes refused to be filmed, he said she was afraid she’d be caught in a goof or an error she could otherwise deny saying.

Rolfes had a pretty good goof worth preserving on film when she referred to an “elderly” couple she helped, the wife 51 years old. There was a collective gasp from the audience, especially the ones in their 50s.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA 98340.

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