Washington state must reform welfare without stripping people of their dignity, a Spokane attorney running for the Legislature said Friday.
Lon Sparks, 51, said he wants welfare reform coupled with “sensitivity and compassion.”
Rather than inflexible limits on the amount of time benefits can be received, he favors regular reviews to ensure that people are seeking work and getting the training they need.
Sparks, a trial attorney who mainly handles criminal cases, said he will announce his campaign for the state House of Representatives today at the Democratic Congressional District caucuses.
He will become the second person to seek the 3rd Legislative District position being vacated by Rep. Dennis Dellwo, who is being appointed to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board.
Democrat Jeff Gombosky, the director of the Institute of Neighborhood Leadership at the Northeast Community Center, previously announced his campaign.
Sparks wants the Legislature to spend more money in the Spokane’s 3rd District, which has one of the highest levels of welfare and public assistance recipients in the state. The state should set up a fund to help low-income families buy their first house or rehabilitate an existing home, he said.
Sparks proposes the state set a target of guaranteeing low-interest loans for 20 homes in the district each month. The district, which includes North Spokane’s urban core and portions of the lower South Hill, needs extra aid because it is one of the poorest in the state, he said.
The district also needs massive road improvements, he added.
“The state’s population is projected to double in the next 20 years, and our roads and bridges are already bottle-necked,” Sparks said. He wants the state to pay for widening Division Street and give property owners who would lose land a payment that represents their true loss.
If elected, he would also sponsor legislation to strengthen penalties against so-called hate crimes.
Sparks, who is single, ran unsuccessfully for the state appeals court in 1988 and for freeholder in 1992. This is his first campaign for a partisan office.