SAN RAFAEL — The gloves came off in a North Coast congressional candidates' forum Tuesday night as two of the Democrats assailed fellow Marin County candidate Stacey Lawson over her voting record and business background.
Norman Solomon, a West Marin activist and author, noted that Lawson, a political newcomer, had failed to vote in two-thirds of recent elections and said she brought "massive amounts of money" from corporate allies into the campaign.
Speaking next, Susan Adams, a Marin County supervisor, challenged Lawson's business record, including an allegation that one of the firms she headed, Chelsey Henry Inc. of Seattle, failed to fully pay its payroll taxes.
"Is this the kind of economic policy we need?" Adams said.
In response, Lawson said it was "definitely a mistake" not to have voted in the elections. "I was disenfranchised," she said, describing her feeling at the time that the political system was "not the answer."
"I'm running because I genuinely care," Lawson said.
Published reports said that Lawson voted four times in 12 elections between October 2003 and November 2008 when she lived in San Francisco, prior to moving to San Rafael.
After the event she said she took the criticism as evidence that her campaign was making an impact.
The debate, sponsored by Dominican University and the League of Women Voters of Marin County, drew a crowd of more than 150 people to Angelico Hall on the campus in San Rafael just three weeks before absentee voters begin casting their ballots for the June 5 primary.
Twelve candidates — eight Democrats, two Republicans and two no party preference — are vying for the 2nd Congresional District seat in Congress