E-mail raises questions about candidate

A private e-mail circulated in the Yelm area is raising questions about a state candidate's motives for running for the House of Representatives.

Nisqually Valley News/February 7, 2008

A private e-mail somehow circulated among residents in the Yelm area is raising questions about a state candidate's motives for running for the House of Representatives.

The e-mail, written by candidate Jean Marie Christenson, was intended for Rainier writer Bettye Johnson. Both women are students of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Yelm.

In her e-mail, some have suggested that Christenson is supporting a specific house bill because she believes it would protect RSE, commonly referred to in the community as "The Ranch."

The bill in question, House Bill 2921, would modify the community renewal law and restrict municipalities on how they can acquire blighted properties by eminent domain.

"This bill would protect the ranch property," Christenson said in her e-mail to Johnson. "No municipality could touch it by cause of eminent domain if this bill was a law.

"That is one of the big reasons I am promoting it so aggressively."

The original bill was introduced by House Majority Leader State Rep. Lynn Kessler.

"Because she is the decision maker on what bill gets heard in committee and in executive committee, we have a good chance this one will be heard," Christenson said in her e-mail. "I am excited about the ramifications on HB2921 for everyone in the state, but locally, it would be more than significant."

When asked about her comments in the e-mail, Christenson said her reference to "the ranch property" was a tongue-in-cheek way of saying "the old homestead," a generalization for everyone's property.

"My father was a proud owner of one of the largest ranches in Washington," Christenson said. "This bill will protect your home and my dad's ranch."

However, some don't buy Christenson's explanation.

"She's not talking about some generic property," said Pastor Jeff Adams, who is an outspoken critic of channeler JZ Knight and RSE. "Those were her words 'protect the ranch property.'"

"How else could you take it?"

Adams, who is opening a church in Yelm and pens a biweekly religious column for the Nisqually Valley News, has come under fire from former Yelm mayoral candidate Steve Klein, who has publicly questioned Adams' motives.

Insinuations that she could be influenced by RSE are insulting not only to her, but to JZ Knight, responded Christenson.

"She is an extremely successful business woman in the area," Christenson said. "I don't even talk to JZ. She's an extremely busy woman."

"She's never even approached me to contribute to my campaign and has never endorsed me."

"But I wish she would."

Christenson said she finds the accusations lobbed against her regarding her e-mail to be offensive because of the implication that her vote could be bought or influenced if she is elected.

"My primary interest is for District 2," Christenson said. "I will serve all of the population."

"JZ Knight has no more significant input than anyone else and to imply that she would is an insult."

If JZ contacted her as a business woman in District 2, Knight's comments would weigh the same as anyone else, Christenson said.

"I'm not taking anyone's personal opinion over another," Christenson said. "I'm working for all the people."

David McCarthy, a former RSE student and current leader of the Life After RSE group, said he believes RSE is attempting to exert influence outside the walls of the school through community politics.

But Christenson said that's untrue.

"I will never be bought or take money to have my vote. My vote is not for sale."

Christenson said she sat in on the public hearing for this bill and found it to be really important.

"Municipalities can actually go in and create a blight to take land that they want." Christenson said. "That doesn't seem to be that fair for the homeowner or property owner."

"The existing law is so broad," Christenson said. "I'm not saying I'm against eminent domain."

"This bill would redefine the term blight and narrows the focus."

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