SEATTLE - The first presidential debate has given people a look at where those candidates stand, but the men running for Washington State's highest office have already debated three times. AARP Washington has just released its Voters' Guide, which includes the gubernatorial candidates' views on issues of concern to people over 50. They were asked about health care, how to fund social safety-net programs and how they would protect seniors from abuse and financial exploitation.
Ingrid McDonald, advocacy director for AARP Washington, says they were also asked if they would promise to hold an "Aging Summit" within the first six months after being elected.
"Both Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee have agreed, and pledged to do so, which we were thrilled to hear. They're both really recognizing and acknowledging that we need to do some careful planning for a future where the demographics and the age breakout of our state are going to dramatically change."
The Voters' Guide is organized like a mock ballot that contains all the races, from national to local, based on the address you type in. It is available at aarp.org/yourvote
Nationally, AARP has also been active in rounding up opinions and analyzing the proposals to reform Medicare and Social Security.
McDonald says Washington just is not ready for the next 20 years of baby boomers retiring and aging - a population that will make up at least one in five residents.
"It's a great thing that people can expect to live 20 to 30 years beyond the traditional retirement age of 65. It's also a challenge. We have to be real about how this growing aging population is and will continue to put some pressure on state-funded services and infrastructure."
While AARP is nonpartisan, it has taken stands on some issues, including its view that the state tax system is unfair and no longer adequate to fund state services.
The remaining gubernatorial debates are coming up Oct. 11 and 16, both in Seattle, and they will be televised statewide.
More information is available on the AARP website, aarp.org.