35th District candidate fired from DSHS job
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:04 AM
"The 35th Legislative District Representative Position 1 Republican primary took a unique twist when Frank Dare was fired from his job as a Department of Social and Health Services social worker because of his candidacy.Although a DSHS spokesman said Dare's candidacy was in violation of the federal Hatch Act and department policy, Dare contends that the policy is arbitrarily and capriciously enforced.In my opinion, the DSHS violated my Constitutional rights, said Dare, an Olympia resident.However, Dare's opponent for the Republican slot on the ballot, Wendy Ervin, felt that as a former military man and state employee, Dare should have been aware of the Hatch Act and state policy.Dare was not singled out, since the Hatch Act applies to all state employees, Ervin said.It's hardly a new thing. I remember (learning about it) when I was in high school and my father was spouting off about the way some things were done in the government, she said. Ervin told her father he should run for office and change those things. He worked for the Veterans' Administration, and explained all the aspects of the Hatch Act and why he couldn't run as a federal employee, said Ervin, who lives in Shelton.DSHS spokeswoman Kathleen Spears provided a copy of the state's Administrative Policy No. 6.03, Employee Participation in Political Activities, to which Dare said he fell victim.The policy states: Employees are prohibited from being a candidate for public elective office in a partisan election.Spears said violations of the policy could result in a fine of up to double the employee/candidate's annual salary.She said another state employee, Delores Ledesma, a home support specialist with DSHS, also was notified she was in violation of the Hatch Act when she ran for state representative from central Washington's 15th District in 1998. Although Ledesma lost the election, she remained a state employee and was subject to disciplinary action, according to a letter from the U.S. Office of Special Council.Spears said Ledesma has asked for a hearing before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.Dare said no one could give him a copy in writing of the state's policy.The DSHS tries not to put anything in writing. When I met with the DSHS representative I asked if there were other agencies with similar policies, but he couldn't name them, or the policy, Dare said.After I told them I needed it put in writing, I had to go to the sixth level of management to get a copy of the policy, he added.Dare charged the department with arbitrary enforcement of the policy, which wasn't mentioned when he ran for a similar office as a Democrat in 1994.He lost that race.But he added that when he was interviewed for his current job eight months ago, he made it clear he planned to run for public office. Dare said no one mentioned the department policy or the Hatch Act at that time.He said he's thinking about appealing the decision to fire him.Ervin said she also had to make a decision about whether to run for office or continue working for the federal government as a census taker.At the point at which I declared as a candidate I stopped being employed by the census, Ervin said.Despite their opinions of DSHS policy and the Hatch Act, both candidates have a common desire to do away with government excess and inefficiency.The district they seek to represent in the Legislature spans much of west Central and South Kitsap, including Seabeck and Holly, along with most of Mason County and parts of Thurston and Grays Harbor counties. The position 1 GOP primary is the only one that will be contested in Tuesday's primary.Dare spoke of personal knowledge of flawed programs bought by state departments from other state governments, that cost the taxpayers millions, he said.Dare earned his bachelor's degree in elementary education and taught fourth and fifth grades, which he said he enjoyed. But he wanted to be a pilot and joined the Air Force, where he flew helicopters, air rescue missions and the legendary CH-46 Jolly Green Giant choppers in Vietnam during the mid-1960s.While in the service he earned a graduate degree in administration, specializing in supervision of higher education, he said.With a near minor in psychology, Dare went into counseling, working as a vocational counselor, juvenile rehabilitation counselor and owning his own counseling service for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. From there he went into social work.It's all related to human services, he said.He said the state has at least 280 programs, not all of them necessary and not all are efficient.He hopes to bring a sense of non-partisanship to the next Legislature, of working together across party lines for the common good.I want to bring people together, to remind (representatives) that they're there to work for the people, he said.Dare and Melissa, his wife of 35 years, have two grown children and two grandchildren.Wendy Ervin also is campaigning against government excess and over control.We need a streamlined, efficient government, not government more and more running the taxpayers. People are paying for a literal tightening-down on our lives ... more and more for less and less freedoms, Ervin said.She gave as an example ambiguous wording using double negatives on ballot initiatives and referendums, such as the one that established the lottery.The lottery goes for something else, and the voters were allowed to believe it would go (totally) for education, she said.The truth is, a lot goes into the general fund and much goes to education. But people believed it was a dedicated fund. People feel they have been lied to. The referendum was worded so it could be misunderstood, and I think that's wrong, Ervin said.She spoke of struggling with the wording for proposals when faced with the ballot, trying to understand what she was voting for.I would like to see a law (passed) for truth in presentation, Ervin said.She would also like to see a more streamlined budget process, with a single, general budget, instead of different departments collecting fees and taxes.There are over 400 different licenses and fees, all different ways the state collects money, and all disburse it as if they're separate entities, she pointed out. There's no accountability to a single source.I'd like to see a better tracking system, we need to see where the taxpayers' money is going. The taxpayer should be able to look at the fund and see how the money is being used, she added.She'd also like to see the property tax system reformed.Ervin feels the current structure is very punitive to people who have lived in their homes for a long time.As property values rise (with the influx of new homeowners) it squeezes out the elderly who bought their houses in the '40s, '50s and '60s. They can't pay their property taxes, and can't enjoy their retirement because they have to go to work to pay their property taxes, she said.Ervin noted her own situation as an example. She has to sell a third-acre of waterfront property inherited from her great-great grandmother, who settled in the Shelton area in the late 1800s, because she said she can't afford the taxes on it.Although Ervin moved around the country as child because of her father's government job, she returned to her roots in Washington to settle down, she said.She had formal office training in a business school, but took advantage of every opportunity to learn along the way.She has worked in office management, sales and communications, property management and newspaper distribution at various times. Along the way she also learned how to repair her own car, doing her own brakes, transmission work, and at one point swapping out an engine. An avid reader, she also has studied history, criminal psychopathy and anthropology.A Renaissance woman, she said she also can embroider if called upon to do so, and has made her own clothes for years.She and her husband, Ralph, have six grown children and six grandchildren.I want a world in which my grandchildren and yours are not rendered economically catatonic by excessive taxation and regulation, she said. "