"Anderson, Sehlin debate at Oak Harbor senior home"
July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:53 PM
"Candidates for state representative talked about prescription drug costs and wages for caregivers at a forum at the Summer Hill Retirement and Assisted Living Community in Oak Harbor on Monday night.Rep. Dave Anderson, D-Clinton, and Barry Sehlin, a Republican, were on hand to talk about their bids as 10th District, Position One candidates for the state House. Dale Tyler spoke at the meeting for Hugh Fleet, who was unable to attend. Fleet is running against Sehlin in the Republican primary.About 15 seniors attended the meeting to listen to the candidates and ask questions. Though the hosts of the forum tried to keep it orderly and organized, an elderly woman in the front row interrupted the candidates throughout the evening, and the candidates seemed annoyed and flustered at the predicament. This eventually led a caregiver at Summer Hill to call the meeting short. Many of the seniors were concerned about federal issues like social security, and the candidates tried to remind them that the race was on the state level. When legitimate state issues did arise, the candidates had a few things to say.All three agreed that prescription-drug prices are an important issue for seniors.Incumbent Anderson said he supported Gov. Gary Locke's plan to let people 55 and older piggy back onto a state employee's health-care plan and buy prescription drugs at 12 to 30 percent cheaper than retail prices. Sehlin agreed, and said other things should be done as well to lower prices.All of those things act like little pieces, he said. Every little piece we need to take advantage of. Anderson, who said he placed his father in a senior home this summer in Bothell and is a member of the Council on Aging, said he advocated for better pay for caregivers in senior centers and home care while in the state Legislature.I think we really need to look at the funding for long term care centers, Anderson said. It's got to be a career-type occupation - not a 'whatever job I can get' situation.Sehlin, who is a Republican, former three-term state legislator and former commander of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, agreed. He said he thinks the quality of employees will rise with a rise in wages.What kind of employee will you have if they're paid minimum wage? he asked. Get on the phone, write letters, make people like us work at it.Both Anderson and Sehlin had high praises for each other, but Anderson said he thinks Sehlin is limited to being a budget guru.I think the issues I'm going to address are more important than the issues Barry is, he said. Sehlin said he agreed that he is a budget guru, but for good reason.Any policy issue of any significance has to do with money, he said.Tyler, speaking for Fleet, didn't seem to focus on state issues. But the seniors in attendance seemed to enjoy his enthusiasm and charisma. "