Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Anacortes - Reception for Rep. Kristine Lytton

Rep Lyttons constituents gather at the McCool Gallegy in Anacortes

Loved the Fall colors and pumpkin piles as I drove through the Skagit Valley to the  Ann Martin McCool Studio and Gallery in Anacortes - a beautiful place for a serious discussion about WA State economic challenges.   The Ann Martin McCool Studio provided artistic inspiration as we waited for Representative Kristine Lytton’s timely arrival.  Among the cheeses on the table we found the delicious fresh salmon and berry cobbler provided by Lona Wilbur

There was agreement among Kristine Lytton's supporters that some of the billions of dollars in cuts from the State budget did eliminate waste.   Rep. Lytton warned that future budget cuts would reduce support for senior's prescription drugs, kindergarden and higher education.  In order to fund K-12 education Rep. Lytton suggests that  the bank exemptions for the B & O tax be limited.  This would affect mostly out of state big banks.  Although  the limit has wide support,  a 2/3 vote of the legislature is needed to pass, because eliminating loop holes is considered a tax increase.  So Rep. Lytton is attempting to garner support from the public for the limit.   
Representative Kristine Lytton listens to a question from a constituent while Democratic National Committee Representative Lona Wilbur looks on.
Business Executive Lonny Heiner said the B & O tax as it is now structured was a hardship for his company.  The company had to move out of State.  He proposed that the B & O tax be replaced by a corporate tax.   There followed an animated question and answer session which Rep. Lytton fielded with aplomb.  She has found esprit de corps among the the freshman class of 10 elected Democratic State Representatives.  They had attended the Wellstone Training for progressive leaders together and found it effective.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stanwood 2011 Candidates Forum

Last Thursday the AAUW and the Stanwood Camano News held a forum in the Stanwood Middle School to present the candidates and issues for the election now taking place.   About 75 mostly older citizens showed up.  I was disappointed in the event because the format and presentations by most of the candidates did not help me decide for whom to vote.  Because so much was crammed into the two hour event, each candidate had only a few highly structured minutes to speak, much of which was taken up with describing how long they had lived in Stanwood, how many children and grandchildren they had, how much they all loved the proposal for a new YMCA and that Stanwood needed to attract new businesses (duh!).   As for the latter nothing more specific was mentioned by most of the candidates than working with the Chamber of Commerce and vague references to signage.   The most debated issue at the City Council level concerned the Salary Commission.  Candidate Larry Sather was for it. Candidate Roger Haskin argued that it was an unnecessary expense.  Being relatively new to Stanwood,  I could not tell from this forum who was right.   Sather and Haskins are running for different positions so that would not determine my vote.  Sather’s opponent Elizabeth Callagham did not address the issue.  Haskin’s opponent Steven A. Venema was not able to attend.

Perennial Flooding in Stanwood was another issue brought up by two of the candidates -  Larry Sather and Jenna Friebel.  Friebel, a hydrologist with an engineering degree from the Univ. of WA, warned that the flood planes in Stanwood were an impediment to downtown development.  To improve the quality of life and make Stanwood more of a tourist (a.k.a. shoppers)  destination,  Friebel also endorsed a shoreline Master Plan.  

Candidates for City Council Position 5 - William Carlton and Jenna Friebel - at the Stanwood Middle School evening forum

All the candidates have solid roots in Stanwood  with relevant and impressive experience.  So just based on what I gleaned from the forum,  in some cases I would have to pick the candidates based on looks and charm.  Not happy with that practice, I am looking for other sources of information.  As always the Snohomish County Local Voters Pamphlet was some help. 

In addition to the City Council races much time was spent presenting the opposing arguments on various initiatives,  debates between Candidates in the Snohomish County Races and presentations by unopposed School board candidates.  The best point made about any of the initiatives was the emphasis on the difficulty of selling bonds to finance highway construction if I-1125 passes. I-1125 makes the unusual requirement that the legislature instead of an independent agency set highway tolls. Investors in toll revenue bonds see the independence of toll-setting bodies as an essential credit requirement.   On other initiatives my time would have been better spent studying the detailed State of Washington’s Voters’ Pamphlet on these issues.  There was more insight into the County Candidates Mike Hope and incumbent Aaron Reardon on Up Front with Robert Mak on King 5 News.  (now available online) Unfortunately there were some ad hominem attacks on Mak's show. 

Candidates for Snohomish County Executive - Aaron Reardon and Mike Hope -
 at the Stanwood Middle School evening forum

In general I think the Forum would have been more helpful if it had cut out the time given to the initiatives and unopposed candidates, allowed more time for the city council races, and been more flexible in asking questions.  For instance the organizers  asked the same two questions of each candidate and got basically the same answer.  They could have saved a significant amount of time without any loss of information by just asking all the Candidates that favored the  construction of a new YMCA facility to raise their hands.  The same for the question as to whether the City should maintain its current City Hall.  Every candidate basically said the we should retain the current building until the city could afford to build a new one.   This type of question response would probably require that all candidates be seated at the stage at once, but the stage was certainly wide enough.  It would also have provided for more interaction among the candidates that was sorely lacking. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Snohomish County Democrats Annual Gala

Saturday I attended the Snohomish County Democrats “Phantom of the Opera Gala”.  In the spirit of the opera many of the Ladies wore beautiful black gowns or sequined dresses except me.  Not knowing the opera I wore Fall colors.  Oops.
 I was thrilled to meet so many of our elected officials that were in attendance.   Our State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen encouraged me to visit the next session of the State legislature in Olympia this winter.  

WA State Attorney General Candidate Bob Ferguson addressed the crowd. As usual Ferguson was applauded when he said his first priority as Attorney General would be to withdraw WA from participation in a lawsuit initiated by Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna.  If successful the lawsuit would block the new federal health care legislation.  ....Candidate Ferguson's  family has deep roots in Everett.  His grandfather owned a meat market in the location where we were now dining at the Comcast Center.

US Congressman Rick Larsen  gave the keynote address.  He believes in the will of the people over the will of the Tea Party e.g. “We must keep the light on at the end of the tunnel” to get through hard times.  Congressman  Larsen thus voted against H.R. 2587  that curbs the National Labor Relations Board's legal authority.   Congressman Larsen argues that  “Congress should not be attempting to influence the NLRB process for political gains.”

Congressman Larsen is worried about  Republicans from other States targeting the State of Washington for the 2012 elections.  Democratic WA State Candidate Jay Inslee’s campaign for governor will be the most targeted race in the country.  Larsen's own reelection  opponent  has received $600,000 from mysterious out of State sources.  Our Democrat State Senator - Mary Margaret Haugen - however, has won elections against great spending odds because she is a great speaker and has a good ear for the “will of the people”.  Congressman Larsen also has demonstrated these same talents at various events I have attended.  So I still hope the mysterious donors are wasting their money. 
Given the serious challenges and outcome of the elections in 2012,  it is no wonder that our elected officials - US Congressman Rick Larsen (left) and State Senator Mary Magaret Haugen  - look concerned even at the Gala. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stanwood City Council Elections

Candidate for Stanwood  City Council - Larry Sather,

A concerned group of residents began to work in earnest this week on Larry Sather’s campaign for position one on the City Council.   Knowing Larry,  we believe he can provide the leadership Stanwood needs.  In addition to his proposals outlined on my July 13th coverage of the candidates Larry recommends the re-establishment of the salary commission so that city council members do not set their own salaries.  Clarifying another point, he proposes that Stanwood firefighters become  members of the Rural Fire District 14 Regional Fire Authority to provide firefighting and EMT service for Stanwood residents.  Larry and the other candidates for North Snohomish County and Camano Island elected position will be discussing these and other issues at the Candidates Forum sponsored by the local chapter of AAUW and The Stanwood Camano News.
WED., OCTOBER 19, 2010 at 6:30 PM
9405  271st ST., STANWOOD, WA