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Monday, September 12, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Gop Aims At Historically Democratic 32Nd District Seat -- Senate Race Open After Boundaries Redrawn

After 25 years in the Legislature - eight in the House and the past 17 in the state Senate - Democratic state Sen. Al Williams had no desire to move north when the state redrew the boundaries of the 32nd District.

The 63-year-old architect-lawmaker's decision to step down has resulted in an open race in the new North King County district, which includes parts of North Seattle, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore.

Republicans see it as an opportunity to grab a historically Democratic Senate seat.

"There's a significant voter backlash" throughout the nation, which should benefit Republicans in local races, said Bob Eberle, executive director of the King County Republican Central Committee.

But Thom Langley, 32nd District Democratic chairman, said, "We're going to do whatever it takes to keep the seat, and we have the numbers to do it."

Also adding spice to the primary election and ensuring a larger-than-usual turnout is the proposal before Shoreline voters to incorporate as the state's newest city.

Into the fray, both parties have drawn strong candidates:

-- Vying for the Democratic nomination are 48-year-old Marilyn Cash Mathews, a former professor with a doctorate in sociology who operates an employer-employee relations consulting firm, and 51-year-old Darlene Fairley, a Lake Forest Park City Council member. The King County Municipal League has rated Fairley "very good," and Mathews, "adequate."

-- Seeking the Republican nomination are 39-year-old Kae Peterson, executive director of the Shoreline/Snohomish YMCA, and 25-year-old Bryan Wahl, a public-relations consultant and former state executive director of the Concord Coalition, a national group advocating a balanced-budget amendment. Peterson was rated "very good" by the Muni League; Wahl, "adequate.'

All agree on at least one issue: They support the Shoreline incorporation move.

Mathews has the endorsement of the district and county party organizations, the Rainbow Coalition and the local chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Fairley has traditional Democratic labor support, including the King County and State Labor Councils and Teamsters Joint Council 28.

A single parent who went back to school to earn advanced degrees, Mathews said her first issue is promoting education, especially apprenticeship programs "for kids not going on to college."

A Shorewood PTSA volunteer, Mathews, author of a book on business ethics, often talks to high-school classes on that subject. She also is finance chairman of the Shoreline Public Schools Foundation.

Trained as a criminologist, Mathews said public safety is now a major concern in the area. She stresses prevention and intervention, with punishment "when other steps don't work."

Mathews also said the economy needs help. "We need a more business-friendly climate," she said.

Fairley, a paraplegic as the result of a 1980 traffic accident, places health care at the top of her agenda.

"I walk with crutches," she said. "I bring a different perspective to the health-care issue. I'm a health-care provider (she helped found and sponsors a family medical clinic in Vietnam) and a health-care user."

A medic and social worker in Vietnam, Fairley also taught high-school English in Texas, has worked as a victim's advocate for Seattle police, and has represented child victims of physical and sexual abuse for Snohomish County courts.

On the Lake Forest Park City Council, Fairley has fought pay raises for the mayor and been a gun-control advocate.

Mathews said she is running a grass-roots campaign, with contributions from many individuals. Fairley, operator of an antique shop, has put $13,000 of her savings into her campaign.

In the primary, the Republican Party is staying neutral and not endorsing any candidates.

Peterson, a past president of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, said she is a "moderate on social issues," while Wahl said he is a "moderate conservative."

On abortion, Peterson favors a woman's right to choose; Wahl opposes abortion. Wahl would support a voucher system allowing parents to choose public or private schools for their children; Peterson opposes vouchers.

"I believe that the Republican Party has to come to a middle ground," Peterson said. "We shouldn't regulate morality."

A former newscaster in Utah, Peterson once operated an oil-fields safety-consulting firm with her husband. She also taught junior-high social studies in South Dakota and Wyoming. She was a co-founder of the Shoreline Resource Network, a founder of the Shoreline Women in Business Conference, and she served on the Shoreline Center Citizens Advisory Board.

Wahl, a Shoreline native, said there has to be a separation of church and state, but "Christians have been discriminated against. You can't even talk about God. Christians should be allowed in politics. Everyone should be provided a voice. I would support at least a silent moment (for students in schools)."

Wahl is a Shoreline Parks commissioner, formed the Shoreline Business Roundtable and is campaign chairman of Vision Shoreline, the incorporation group. He favors less government and a return to local responsibility.

"I believe we should turn to ourselves," Wahl said. "We need to restore basic values of families, hard work, discipline. It doesn't happen through government."

There isn't a contest in the primary for the two 32nd District House positions for either party.

Two incumbent Democrats are running unopposed - Rep. Nancy Rust, whom the Municipal League rates "very good" for Position 1, and Rep. Grace Cole, judged "outstanding" by the league for Position 2.

Terry Roberts, a training administrator for a private company that provides services for at-risk youth, has filed for the Republican nomination for Position 1, while the party filed the name of Pat Bissen, a disabled Army veteran and law student and former small-business owner, for Position 2. Municipal League ratings are "good" for Roberts; "adequate" for Bissen.

Published Correction Date: 09/14/94 - Bryan Wahl, A Republican Candidate For State Senator In The 32Nd District, Was Misidentified In This Article As Campaign Chairman Of Vision Shoreline, The Group Working For Incorporation Of The City Of Shoreline. Wahl Was A Member Of The Group's Executive Board And Served As Campaign Chairman Only Until He Filed To Run For The Legislature.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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