June 11, 2012
By John Clark
Two candidates who are competing to unseat Washington state Rep. Jan Angel have previously filed for bankruptcy, which is raising awareness that bankruptcy can strike anyone, at any time, regardless of their social or political position.
The first candidate, Karin Ashabraner, a Democrat competing in a primary for the right to challenge Angel, a Republican, reportedly first filed for bankruptcy in 1986 with her first husband due to a business failure, according to a report from the Kitsap Sun.
And this was just her first filing. Sources say that Ashabraner also filed for bankruptcy with her second husband in 1996 after a home remodeling project left the couple drowning in debt.
Fortunately for Ashabraner, her challenger in the Democratic primary for the 26th district seat, Stephen Greer, also filed for bankruptcy. His bankruptcy was a Chapter 13 filing that started in 2000 and was discharged in 2003.
According to the Kitsap Sun, Ashabraner and Greer are not alone. Of the 42 candidates running for the Washington state legislature, four have confirmed that they have filed for bankruptcy in the past, and two others are believed to have previously sought bankruptcy protection.
The number of candidates who have filed for bankruptcy reflects a national trend, as bankruptcy increasingly loses its past stigma and evolves into a very common form of debt relief.
Ashabraner observes that her bankruptcies taught her “what it means to be someone who’s seen some tough times,” and claims that she is a “stronger person” due to her past financial struggles.
To her credit, Rep. Angel does not plan to use her opponents’ bankruptcy filings against them during the campaign. She wisely notes that, in the current “tough times,” a person’s debt problems do not necessarily make them unfit for public service.
And another Republican running for office in Washington, Tony Stephens, told the Kitsap Sun that he would also refuse to criticize an opponent who previously filed for bankruptcy.
He also observed that excluding people who have bankruptcy histories from running for political office would severely narrow the field of potential politicians.
In his words, "most people are in debt. Most people have late bills. Many voters are just ahead of bankruptcy, themselves.”
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