Updated October 14, 2007
Ivan Weiss
Ivan Weiss ended his candidacy for appointment as State Representative, 34th District on October 14th. Here is his statement:

Ivan Weiss Statement, October 14, 2007

I am ending my candidacy for the House appointment, effective immediately, having accomplished everything I set out to do by running in the first place.

I'm not going to win, I don't have the numbers, too many people who would have supported me will be unable to attend the November 1 meeting, and my time is better spent mobilizing the District for the 2007 and 2008 elections, which is what you elected me to do.

The point was not to send Ivan to Olympia. The point was to send the best possible state Representative to Olympia who also had the support of the District organization.

When I first heard that Erik Poulsen had resigned from the Senate and that Joe McDermott would fill his seat, the very first person I thought of to fill Joe's House seat was Sharon Nelson.

At the time, Sharon was not well known in the District. Make no mistake, that was a problem, and it is why I ran. It is not that much of a problem today. I ran partly to send her and her team a message, and they have gotten the message. Sharon has demonstrated to my satisfaction that she will be an integral part of the organization in addition to being a hard-working, conscientious, responsive state representative. I like to think that I set that bar pretty high.

She is head and shoulders above the field. It's not even close. I support her candidacy, and I urge you to support her also.

If she is a stranger to you, she is no stranger to me. I have watched Sharon in action, up close and personal, and side by side in battle, on Vashon for 10 years, in the ongoing fight to keep Glacier from mining away a huge chunk of Maury Island and destroying our Sound. I have seen her stand up to managed news, smear attacks, and phony ethics charges. She has gone head-to-head with one of the most ruthless corporate predators in the state and its well-paid, conscienceless lobbyists, for all that time without ever once backing down or even flinching.

She is throrough and meticulous, with a great talent for research. She is an accomplished community organizer of considerable standing, and she is every bit the get-in-your-face no-prisoners scrapper that people think I am. The 34th District should not be sending any shrinking violets to Olympia. After Joe and Sharon are elected in 2008, we should have one of the state's strongest delegations. Because Sharon is from Vashon, her presence helps break the exclusively Seattle-centric cycle of representation. That can only benefit the District.

There remains the issue of whether a party appointment should go solely, or even primarily, to someone who has put in the time, month after month, year after year, in the District organization, doing the scut work. I believe that by and large, it should. I'm also not an absolutist about it.

There is also the issue of whether or not party appointments should be determined by a District's elected officials and their anointed, chosen ones, and not the District's PCOs, the rank and file of the organization. I believe that by and large, the PCOs should decide. I'm also not an absolutist about it.

In this case, the imperatives overlap, yet all the conditions are met.

Certainly Dow Constantine has paid his dues to the District organization from Day One, up through the ranks, and he continues to pay them, in time, in money, in hard work, in responsiveness, and in commitment. He is the very model of how an elected official should interact with a District organization. Arguably he has done more, over the years, to make the 34th District Democrats a strong, growing organization than any other single individual.

In supporting Sharon's candidacy, he played it strictly by the book. He brought us 40-plus new PCOs. Those PCOs have a vote just like every other PCO does, so in this case, yes, the PCOs will in fact decide. And they will work with the rest of us to make the 34th even stronger. Oh, yes. They will work.

Dow cared enough about the District to build the party while he was campaigning for his candidate, just as the rest of us did. It's not like he's some "suit" who shows up twice a year, and we're the serfs. He is one of us, and in this case, he's entitled.

And then there's me. We all know I'm not some "suit," and we all know that whatever I am, I am not a slacker in the 34th District Democrats, either.

And Sharon was the first person I thought of, too.

So in that sense, Sharon does have the support of the District organization, a lot more so than lot of appointed - and even elected - legislators in a lot of other Districts have had, in my experience.

I didn't set out to be a "stalking horse." But that's the way it turned out.

Hey, that's politics. Roll with it and go on, because there always are bigger battles ahead.

I am satisfied that everyone concerned has acted on the up-and-up throughout this process. Any pettiness or negativity that has emerged should just be ignored. If you don't feel like you know Sharon well enough to support her, or not, maybe establishing that relationship is partly your responsibility.

To the people who supported me, thank you very much. I appreciate it more than you know. Please believe me, we'll be getting a good one, and I'll still be here for you.

--
"When they're working, we're working
When they're sleeping, we're working."

Ivan Weiss


Ivan Weiss' Original Statement of Purpose in seeking the Appointment

Once again: "Why me?"

In November 2004, after being asked to run for the chairmanship of the 34th District Democrats, I passed around a leaflet at our membership meeting headed "Why Me," that stated who I was, what I thought qualified me to serve, and what the District might expect from me.

Almost three years later, Erik Poulsen's unexpected resignation from the Senate and Joe McDermott's appointment have created another "why me?" opportunity.

Please examine the points that all the applicants for the House appointment raise and emphasize in our respective Statements of Purpose, and consider these questions.

Do we want a State Representative who sees the "big picture" for our District and for Washington state, and for the people who live and work here. How would you want to interact with your state Representative, and how would you want that Representative to interact with you? How we might best use those relationships to create stronger communities and a better future?

My qualifications

These experiences qualify me to serve the 34th District, and serve it well, as your State Representative.

•    

33 years as a professional journalist at the Seattle Times, where I monitored incoming national and international news, edited copy, and served as a Newspaper Guild shop steward and activist for 20 of those years.

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2 years as a business agent for Teamsters Local 763, where I represented and administered 15 bargaining units, comprising more than 1,000 members, negotiated contracts, handled grievances, conducted organizing and shop steward training, and performed constituent service all day, every day.

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6-1/2 months as a Field Organizer in the Washington State Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign, in which I organized volunteers in the 25th District in the campaigns of John Kerry, Patty Murray, Adam Smith, Christine Gregoire, Jim Kastama, and Dawn Morrell. This was a 12-hour, 7-day work week.

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3 years as Chairman of the 34th District Democrats, and as a Democratic Party political activist and organizer all over the state. Active in 34th District's "sister district" relationship with 15th District.

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Active member, Washington State Democrats Latino and Labor Caucuses, fundraiser, Latino Vote Project.

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3 years on the King County Democratic Party's Legislative Action Committee, which meets with legislators once a month, researches information on various bills, and provides substantive input and legislative strategies to our Democratic lawmakers. We read the bills and we pick them apart, and we mobilize our respective memberships in support of legislation that we favor.

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Co-winner, 2006 Magnuson Award, Male Democrat of the Year in Washington state.

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Member, Vashon-Maury Island Community Council Transportation Committee.

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Member, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

While a union representative, I wrote and negotiated collective bargaining agreements for hundreds of members, with little staff backup, and administered those contracts on a daily basis, through bargaining on the shop floor, and through the grievance and arbitration processes. After 35-plus years as a professional editor and proofreader, "reading the fine print" of all types of documentation is my way of life.

Negotiating brings people together to reach a mutually agreeable solution, sometimes in an adversarial or highly confrontational environment. At every step it is essential to research meticulously the legal consequences of every alternative, and to think several steps ahead about how every move might bring a positive outcome.

My job was to achieve working agreements through collaborative effort, on behalf of our members. That has prepared me well for the give and take of the State Legislature.

I have been a citizen lobbyist in Olympia for the Fair Share Health Care Act, and on a variety of other issues. During the 2007 session, I was on the team of Vashon Island citizen lobbyists that worked daily, in Olympia and by phone and e-mail, on behalf of Senator Poulsen's Maury Island Marine Reserve Bill.

I know the legislators, and they know me. I am personally acquainted with 36 of the 62 Democratic House members and most of the Democratic Senators. Two such relationships go back more than 35 years.

It takes time for any freshman to become effective. Most freshmen are unknown to veteran caucus members. The day after you appoint me, I will be in a better position to be effective because of the relationships I already have built. Individual caucus members have their own strengths and weaknesses, and their own passions and style for getting things done. Sometimes it takes years to gain the understanding that enables a rookie to be effective. I have a deep respect for the members, the process, and the culture of the institution. You should have no doubt about how hard I will work on your behalf, and I will always honor the trust you place in me.

Legislative outlook for 2008

Environment

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Maury Island Marine Reserve bill - I will continue the efforts to stop Glacier Northwest's proposed gravel mine. It is too great a threat to the land and the fresh water supply, to the nearshore environment, to the marine food chain, and to the success of Governor Gregoire's Puget Sound Partnership, to be allowed. This is the 34th District's highest environmental priority for the 2008 session.

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Renewable energy - Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature have enabled great strides in biodiesel, wind energy, and conservation practices recently, and breakthroughs in solar panel technology are imminent. Legislation that supports sustainable energy practices could provide Washington ratepayers with a return on investment that eventually could match the return from the great Columbia River dams. I will work hard to pass such laws.

Transportation

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Roads and Transit - I support King County Proposition 1, and will work with lawmakers from Pierce and Snohomish Counties to provide what state aid is feasible for future expansion of the regionwide light rail system. I would hope someday to help bring light rail to the 34th District and points south, through Federal Way to Tacoma.

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Access to downtown - I support expansion of all mass transit alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles, whether that be rail or Bus Rapid Transit. At the same time, vehicle capacity and mobility must be retained at least at their present levels. Unless and until an alternative to the Alaskan Way Viaduct exists that will retain capacity and mobility, I support keeping the Viaduct in place, even if that means rebuilding it.

•   

Ferries - Vashon has borne the brunt of Tim Eyman-fueled ferry service cutbacks. Initiative 695 gutted the ferries' major source of financing, the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. Restoring the midday run to Tacoma and at least one nighttime run from Fauntleroy, ensuring any needed state backup for the Passenger-only Vashon ferry, the West Seattle Water Taxi, and all components of the King County Ferry District, and eventually including Southworth in passenger-only service, will be among my priorities.

Education

I am the only applicant for this appointment with a child currently in the public school system. But I would be an active stakeholder in the success of our public schools regardless. These are only a few among many priorities for state education policy:

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Simple majority - Until Washington revamps its entire tax structure to make it less regressive, we are forced to approve school levies and bonds district by district at the ballot box. It is essential to our state's future that we approve EJHR 4204 in November 2007.

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Teacher pay - Washington continues to lag behind the national average in teacher salaries at the K-12 and community college levels. Teachers need full funding for cost-of-living increases and for increases in health-care premiums. Retirement funds must be fully funded, and we need to find a way to honor past promises to present retirees.

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Class size - Several years of recent experience as a classroom volunteer have convinced me that class size matters plenty. Smaller classes give teachers and students better opportunities to form relationships that foster effective learning. I would actively seek state funding to enable smaller class sizes.

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WASL - WASL has its place in the educational system. But it is a test and only one test, and the burden of proof should always be on those who would seek to make it a greater, or the sole, determinant of a student's fitness to graduate from high school. I start with the position that teachers are the best people to determine that, and I would approach all legislation from that standpoint.

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Early childhood learning - I was a co-op preschool dad. I have seen the value of early childhood learning firsthand. I support any and all efforts to increase and expand early childhood learning, in quantity and in quality, at the state level. No investment offers a greater return for our state.

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Charter schools, vouchers - No. A thousand times, no.

Health care

Access to comprehensive taxpayer-financed health care is a basic human right. Our governments should manage it, and inability to pay should not be a barrier to receiving care. In other words, I am for a single-payer system of health care in the United States.

We can all work toward that goal, and I hope that we do. But until such time, in the present political and fiscal climate, the Legislature is forced to advance at an incremental level. I support this approach until the political climate will help us achieve true universal health care.

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Coverage for children - I support Governor Gregoire's suit against the Bush Administration's restrictions on expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). I support Representative Cody's plan to expand SCHIP to all children whose families earn 300 percent of the federal poverty level by 2009.

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Portability of health insurance - Employees who change jobs should be able to take their health insurance coverage with them. This is part of the Health Insurance Partnership (HIP), sponsored by Representative Cody and others, that also creates an insurance pool that covers low-wage employees of small employers. I support full funding for, and expansion of, this program to other individuals and other markets.

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Fair share - I support the Taxpayer Health Care Fairness Act, sponsored in 2007 by Representative Conway, under which employers with more than 1,000 workers would have had to reimburse the state for the costs of their employees on tax-funded health plans. The bill did not clear the Appropriations Committee. If it returns in some form, I will support it. The taxpayers should not subsidize irresponsible employers, such as Wal-Mart.


Labor

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Worker privacy - The Worker Privacy Bill would prohibit employers from forcing employees to attend anti-union indoctrination meetings during organizing drives, as a condition of further employment. Employers still could present their side, but employees could walk away and go back to work without fear of retribution if they chose to. Violators would lose whatever tax subsidies they enjoyed.

It is a basic human right not to be a "captive audience" if you do not choose to be. This would be groundbreaking legislation for Washington state, to my knowledge the first such statewide bill in the nation, and I want to go to Olympia to co-sponsor it.

Reproductive rights and sex education

•   

Reproductive issues should be between women and their doctors, period. Washington voters have made it clear, even before Roe v. Wade, that abortion should be safe and legal. Access to birth control medication should not be subject to interference from pharmacists. Sex education should be medically accurate in all cases, especially in the presence of programs based on religion.

Civil rights

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I support full marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Churches can marry whomever they choose to or choose not to, but all citizens whose tax dollars pay for the creation, administration, and enforcement of our laws deserve equal opportunity and full benefit of those laws.

Public financing of elections

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I support the "local option" public financing bill sponsored by Representative McDermott in the 2007 session. Certainly I would sign onto this bill as a sponsor or co-sponsor.

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I support the bill that would provide public financing of judicial elections. I have some hope that we could pass that one in the 2008 session.

•   

I support public financing for Legislative elections, and for statewide races. This will be the toughest one to get, and we might be forced to get it by initiative. I would support any such initiative campaign, even while "dialing for dollars" under the present system.

The "big picture"

I fight for economic and social justice for all Americans. I advocate for those whose basic human needs are greatest and most urgent. I support public policy that will meet those basic human needs.

The Democratic Party, which nominates and elects (and which in this case appoints) our legislators, is the vehicle for effecting those positive policies. The Democratic Party and the labor movement created the middle class in the United States. We are the greatest defenders of the social, governmental, and political system that has created and maintained the economic well-being that we enjoy today.

The Republicans and their supporters want us to have less, so that they can have more. There is no "nice," or "measured," or "bipartisan" way to say this. We are in a struggle in this country, and certainly in Washington state, to keep the middle class intact, to keep the working class from becoming a permanent underclass, and to keep our natural resources and our very government from being sold to the highest bidder.

For our 34th District legislators to lead that struggle, support from the voters must be so strong, and so pervasive, and so unmistakable, that the impetus for positive change becomes irresistible. This goes beyond any particular bill or legislative package. It becomes a state of mind, and a way of life. And the sky is the limit.

Is delivering this message to our voters, at their doors, in their homes, over coffee, or at a community meeting, a proper role for a State Representative? I say yes.

I speak plainly, and sometimes bluntly. Not everyone is always comfortable with this. But I speak plainly and bluntly because the times call for it. Most Democrats are not "trust fund babies," and many people in the 34th District are struggling to make ends meet. Some people who read this might be one paycheck or one automobile accident away from bankruptcy or homelessness.

I believe that the 34th District needs a forceful, articulate advocate for working people who are feeling the pinch of the economy, even in a relatively well-off state like Washington. I believe that I can be such an advocate.

That is what I call proactive, and not reactive, constituent service and outreach. It is taking the agenda to the people whose taxes have paid for it. It is making clear the connection between citizens and their elected representatives. It helps empower people in our District to make the system work for them, as it was designed to do.

The 2008 election

If I am appointed to House Position No. 2, I will be a candidate for election to a full term in 2008. I expect - in fact, I welcome - a contested primary. The campaign will begin immediately after the session ends, as soon as the law allows.

I'll need to introduce myself to the voters of the 34th District, and I will be canvassing their precincts, I hope with their PCOs. I'll be delivering the Democratic Party message for the presidential ticket, for Governor Gregoire, for our candidates for statewide office and the various ballot measures, and for our Legislative delegation.

Per our state Constitution, we have a citizen Legislature, not a professional one, and it is part-time, not full-time, as in California. Therefore our state legislators have "day jobs," and many cannot exist solely on their Legislative salaries. That is why we have a vacancy in the 34th.

I will not have a day job. I am already collecting a pension, I have plenty of money, and my legislative duties and the campaign will get my full attention. I hope no one thinks I don't have the energy or the drive for a prolonged campaign, or that I lack the focus or fundraising abilities to sustain it.

Working up and down the ticket, even when conducting a personal campaign, engages the voters and helps build the party. It could get us hundreds of new members, and we could fill all our 206 precincts with PCOs.

Most important, the campaign would give me an unmatched opportunity to pick the brains of the voters, so that approaching a full term I would have a far better understanding of what the District needed, and already would be working on strategies to deliver it in the 2009 session.

The primary election will, in effect, be the general election in the 34th. The Republicans will be scrambling to avoid losses elsewhere and won't even bother here. That would enable me to help Democrats in "swing" Districts, maybe those in Pierce County where I already have on-the-ground experience.

Such an effort could only enhance the influence of the 34th District among the House and Senate leadership. It would not hurt our bargaining power in Olympia, that's for sure. That is another part of the "big picture."

The personal note

In November 2004, as I was wrapping up six and one-half months of working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week without a break, essentially for minimum wage at age 61, for our ticket and for our ideals, and to take our country back, I had no thought of becoming chairman of the 34th District Democrats.

But when the opportunity came, quite unexpectedly, I grabbed it, and I ran with it - twice, without opposition either time. During the past three years as your chairman I have given the District organization, our respective communities, and the Democratic Party in Washington state a great amount of my life, and at some financial cost.

I was an eyewitness to Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington DC in 1963, and I have seen Buckminster Fuller explain the properties of structures. But the speech I have heard most recently that speaks exactly to our task at hand was Governor Gregoire's "One Washington" address at the Democratic state convention in Yakima in 2006. We in the 34th District followed that concept in building our "Sister District" relationship with the 15th District. Largely for that, I was the co-winner of the Magnuson Award for "Male Democrat of the Year," and the 34th District Democrats are now a player on the statewide political stage.

We are at this time a highly successful organization - financially, organizationally, and politically. We have fulfilled in great part my own personal "mission statement," which is: "We are here to gain, maintain, and exercise political power, in the 34th Legislative District and beyond."

I like to think I have had something to do with that. Vashon Island and the 34th District Democrats are my communities, and the connection, for me, has been heart, mind, body, and soul. Now is my time to step up and give even more, and to put my beliefs into action.

Now, faced with another, greater, equally unexpected opportunity to serve the 34th, I pose this question: If I have given so much of myself as a volunteer, with such marked results, what might we accomplish on the taxpayers' dollar with me as your State Representative, with a personal staff, a caucus staff, the various committee staffs, and the brain power of the entire Democratic leadership and caucus to back it up? And with a whole lot of people watching?

The chairmanship of the 34th District Democrats is not an entitlement to be appointed to the Legislature. Bur our last three such appointments have been District chairs, who had proven their worth, and they all served us well. You should know by now that I would continue that tradition.

All the applicants for this appointment would vote right. Whoever you select will serve the District well and will have my support in the 2008 primary and general elections. But if you select me, you would be getting a lot more than a "safe" vote.

I'm betting that you really want to find out! I ask you now for your votes to send me to Olympia. I will make you so proud!

Never forget:
--
"When they're working, we're working
When they're sleeping, we're working."

Ivan Weiss

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