As she begins her campaign for Congress, Sue Kaun is quick to say she doesn’t have solutions to some of the nation’s toughest problems.
The federal budget should be balanced, although a seven-year time limit isn’t crucial, she said. But which programs to cut requires further study.
The tax code favors businesses at the expense of individuals, she said. But citizens need to discuss the changes before any overhaul is attempted.
Welfare doesn’t work as well as the nation had hoped when the programs were instituted, she said, but placing time limits on benefits mean poor children will be left without a safety net.
“I don’t have all the answers,” Kaun said Thursday.
That doesn’t strike her as a serious handicap as she prepares to challenge freshman Rep. George Nethercutt for Eastern Washington’s 5th District seat.
“It’s important to bring people in who have, not necessarily the answers, but the ability to think through the problems,” she said.
Congress needs more facilitators and collaborators, she said, and fewer people intent on winning or losing.
“It’s time for Congress to grow up and solve problems,” she said. “They’ve tried to dismantle the government, not make it better.”
A former general manager of the Liberty Lake Sewer District, Kaun will become the second Democrat candidate in the race when she announces this morning at a Ridpath Hotel press conference. Judy Olson of Garfield, former president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, said last week she would run for the seat.
It will be Kaun’s second run for elective office, and a quantum leap from her successful first campaign. That 1992 election placed her on the board of 25 freeholders who spent three years studying ways to revise local government. Kaun wound up opposing the board’s final product, a city-county charter, and joined the campaign against it.
Her ability to debate and discuss the charter prompted friends and party activists to urge her to run for Congress.
“If I hadn’t been asked by people, I never would have thought about it,” she said.
There are some issues on which Kaun takes unequivocal stands. She supports a woman’s right to choose an abortion, and believes the federal government should supply tax funds for women on welfare who make that choice.
She supports the so-called assault weapons ban, which restricts the manufacture and sale of certain types of semiautomatic military style rifles.
But many of the nation’s problems require the suggestions of many people rather than a solution from one person, she said.
Republicans who took control of Congress after the 1994 election “were given a gift” to make changes. Instead, there has been gridlock, she said.
“They’ve blown it with their bully-boy tactics,” she said.
Kaun, 54, is married and the mother of three grown children. She was the manager of Liberty Lake Sewer District from 1976 through 1990, and served as interim manager for Modern Electric Water Company in 1991.