By Lisa Plymate
We can be proud of our energized 34th LD delegation to the state convention this year. Thanks to our chair Marcee Stone, for the first time we hosted a hospitality suite Friday night, then we really let it rip for one of the major speakers that evening, one of our own, Dow Constantine. And to top it all off, because of Dow (and Shirley!) we had perhaps the youngest delegate-to-be ever, 6 week old Sabrina Constantine, showing off in their hospitality suite a floor below, definitely a major hit! (Photo at right shows some of the 34th District Democrats at the convention, including Ted Barker and his son, Tamsen Spengler, Karen Chilcutt, Martha Koester, Carol Frillman and Jimmy Haun).
At the banquet the night before the Convention, our main speakers were Jaxon Ravens, whom everyone agrees is off to a roaring start as our state party chair; our own King County Executive Dow Constantine; U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and as keynote speaker, former Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. Governor Rendell emphasized the importance of knowing our values and sticking to them, being proud of them, even if it means losing an election. Remember why we’re Democrats and be proud of it. Say yes to hard work, and yes to investments. The key to building a robust economy is to invest in education, research and innovation, and infrastructure. Dow spoke of our core values, our belief in a more just society. We should be concerned about the undocumented guns (not workers) in our communities, increase the minimum wage to a living wage and expand our environmental protections. Jaxon
quoted JFK: “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Since we have no major statewide candidates for national election this year, our focus is on returning the state Senate to a Democratic majority. Those of us fortunate enough to live in districts in which a Democratic victory is virtually assured should work to help other districts. We need a majority to be able to get our agenda through. House Speaker Frank Chopp listed the bills passed by the House but axed by the Senate, including major bills in education, transportation, reproductive parity and many more. State Treasurer Jim McIntyre stated our two key issues for putting our budget in order are investments in education and transportation. Our Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose job is to defend and enforce state laws pointed out that he hopes the legislature provides him good laws in the first place. As an example of the problems we have, he cited the florist in eastern Washington who refused to sell wedding flowers to a man for his upcoming (gay) wedding. Ferguson sued the florist on the basis of our law against discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The state Republicans in the Senate put forth a bill that would have eviscerated these protections….
The state party supports three major initiatives: (1) I-594 to extend the requirement of background checks for purchasers of guns; (2) I-1329 to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that free speech is a granted to people not corporations; and (3) I-1351, to fund schools to reduce class size. (The 34th LD has endorsed the first two, but has not yet considered the third.)
Governor Jay Inslee spoke next on how we are about ACTION to get our state going.We should be proud that >600,000 Washingtonians gained health care, putting us at #1 per capita in the nation for adding citizens to health plans. We are a state of leaders; we embrace, rather than ignoring, challenges. We are proud that we passed a Dream Act this year. We have tried – and will continue to work on moving forward to give our kids the resources they need in terms of following our state mandate and the McCleary decision to improve our educational system. The debate in Olympia has been over how to finance the improvements we need. It would be wrong to take funds out of social programs, as the Republicans suggest; it is right to close loopholes in taxes on corporations. It is a Washington principle, Inslee states, that if you work a 40 hour work- week, you ought to be able to support yourself and your family with a living wage. We need a com- prehensive transportation plan, including finishing the 520 bridge, joining in to build a new bridge across the Columbia River. Finally, he took up the key issue he has worked hard on nationally: im- proving our environment and combatting climate change. Because of carbon pollution acidifying the Puget Sound and climate change, we are seeing major threats to sources of livelihood in our state, from oyster farms where oysters cannot live and grow, to increased forest fires, ski areas without snow, wineries without irrigation. We will be energy entrepreneurs, finding ways to solve these prob- lems and creating new jobs by embracing new technologies. We must lead in education, transporta- tion, and clean energy.
We heard riveting speeches by our three freshman (the “tres amigos”)in the U.S. Congress: (1) Susan DelBene, in the 1st CD, who is focusing on agricultural issues, women’s economic agenda (equal pay for equivalent work, expanding access to affordable child care) and fixing our broken immigration system; (2) Denny Heck, from our new 10th CD, who emphasized the need for strong voter turnout for us to win and who serves on the Finance Committee in the House; and (3) Derek Kilmer of the 6th CD, who feels strongly that the President needs a Congress that works with him. He believes in equal pay for equivalent work, fighting for the mid- dle class, supporting those who are suffering, improv- ing our science (we cannot be the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and be the last to do something about it), government that works (we don’t govern to win elections; we win elections to maxim- ize our ability to govern effectively). Derek stated he is frequently asked back home in his district, why do you want to go to Congress when you have two young kids and it’s such a mess? His answer: Because I have two kids, and it’s such a mess!
We next met several impressive candidates running to turn our Congressional delegation fully blue: Jason Ritchie is running in the 8th CD against Dave Reichert; he is a small businessman with a well-greased cam- paign, out to “make this a better world for my kids to live in. Tony Sandoval is running for the open seat in the 4th CD, home to Doc Hastings, who is retiring. He is the son of farm workers, raised from age 7 in fos- ter homes, eager to protect agriculture, vote on immigration reform, promote jobs, and clean up Hanford. Also putting his hat into that race is Estakio Beltran, an accomplished young man also raised in numerous foster homes in eastern Washington who went on to get his MA from Columbia University and who pointed out that 50% of the 4th CD is young and 37% are Latino. This will be a great race to watch, as there are 8 Republican candidates as well. Finally, Joe Pakootas, CEO of the Colville tribal federation, is working to unseat Cathy McMorris-Rogers in the 5th CD (Photo at right is Jaxon Ravens with Joe Pakootas)..
We also heard from U.S. Senators, Patty Murray, who has been in the Senate since 1992, longest of any woman serving, who spoke of our clear choice in the upcoming elections. Democrats are for jobs, opportunity, growth and families. Seventy-seven cents on the dollar is not good enough for women. We need universal pre-K, affordable child care. No one who works full time should live in poverty. We must reduce the crushing bur- den of student loan debts. We must fight back against Citizens United, including supporting a Constitutional amendment if necessary.
Our main business beyond these speeches was to ratify our state party platform and to pass resolutions. Both can be found at the state party website: www.wa-democrats.org. I think all of us serving as delegates enjoyed the camaraderie, the spectacular Spokane scenery in our perch beside the roaring river and the rousing speeches. Now it’s time for all of you to join us in the fight to take back our state Senate and expand our Democratic U.S. Congressional delegation!