Posted by: sweeneyblog | March 9, 2012

An evening with Kathleen Drew for Sec of State

Harriet Spanel's House

Last night, Harriet Spanel hosted an a casual evening at her house for anyone and everyone who wanted to meet Kathleen Drew in her race to replace retiring Secretary of State Sam Reed. Making our way up the pleasant wooden steps to her Sehome hill house, I immediately spied John Servais (of NWCitizen) and Michael Lilliquist (of city council) lingering by the door. I’ll take “Fairhaven-based troublemakers for $200 Alex”.

Joking aside, Spanel’s living room was packed with an interesting mix of people. Sure there was some of the usual Democratic establishment there. Roni Lenore, the former chair of the 40th LD, Natalie McClendon, the current chair of the Whatcom Democrats, Abe Jacobsen, my favorite curmudgeon to the County Council.

Roni Lenore, former chair of the 40th LD

However, there were a few surprises. Several people leftover from Spanel’s generation of politicians most of whom, I’m sorry to say, I was unfamiliar. Halfway through, Craig Cole arrived, smiling genially. There was home-made ice cream being served, and Kathleen Drew’s husband and campaign manager circled the room while she shook hands and was introduced to those who arrived.

But on to the main course. Before long, Harriet Spanel gathered everyone’s attention and introduced Kathleen Drew. She explained that they had served together in the WA State Senate many years ago and while she “knows all of the other candidates, (Drew) is superior to all of them.”

Kathleen Drew took it from there. She told a story about relying on Spanel’s advice while serving on the Natural Resources chair, and then noted that she was the first person to “beat Dino Rossi” when she ran against him the first time. She brought up her recent endorsement by the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, and how she was the only woman running for state-wide office.

Kathleen Drew

She also brought partisanship into her speech. The Secretary of State position had not been held by a Democrat since 1960, or in other words “the year I was born.” She continued, “I want to give credit to those who came before for the great things they’ve done. Vote by mail, for instance. But now it is time for the next step. We need to look at who is not voting and why. We need to look at low-income voters, communities of color and see what barriers there are.” Drew noted that this effort should not be “top-down, but listening to the grassroots.”

But back to the national issues, “I look across this country and I shudder about the statements made about women and women’s rights. I thought we were done with all that.” She spoke strongly against Citizen’s United, and aired concerns about how that national lack of transparency would affect transparency locally.

What I enjoyed is she highlighted some of the other responsibilities of the Secretary of State. Sure, it oversees elections, and that is a big deal, but it also is responsible for the registration of civil unions. Drew said she would “smooth the transition” as we move to marriage equality. She brought up the state archives, and her efforts to save local municipalities money by speeding up the digitization of those records so that they are all accessible state-wide and that we “don’t have to worry about those records being lost in a fire.”

After that, she opened it up for questions. I asked about PCO elections, and she said she supports the current plan which only places contested PCO races on the ballot, but continues to keep that an public election. She cited a number of voter specific legislation that she supports. The recent effort to allow 16-17 year olds to preregister to vote when they get their driver licenses, the Voting Rights Act, which requires district-only voting in areas with a history of disenfranchising communities of color.

She says she supports same day registration for voting, and wants to “take a look at public financing options for our elections.” In response to our ever shifting date for our primary, she says she isn’t sure, “but is open to looking at some options.”

Kathleen Drew took more than a couple veiled shots at the three Democratic state senators who sided with the Republicans recently to pass the Republican in the dead of night with little oversight or input. One of those turncoats, Jim Kastama, is running for Secretary of State as a Democrat.

I must admit, I had to duck out at this point for another engagement, but overall, Kathleen seemed driven, direct and has the right policy positions. While she wasn’t the most personally charming candidate, she definitely was genial and thoughtful.

There’s one more encounter I’ve had with Kathleen Drew that I would like to mention. I ran into her last year and because her husband is the former Thurston County Assessor, I asked her about a recent issue that happened with the Olympia City Council since it is my hometown. Basically, one of the more talented businessmen in Olympia, Joe Hyer, who owns Olympic Outfitters and Alpine Experience and who gave my brother some fabulous work experience also served on the City Council and frequently crossed swords with fellow City Councilmember Jeff Kingsbury, who owned a children’s theater in town. Hyer was planning to run for Thurston County Treasurer, but Kingsbury wasn’t going to let that happen so Kingsbury, working with the Thurston County Sheriff’s office, enacted a sting on Hyer by trying to buy marijuana off of him. The Sheriff’s office used that as justification to raid Hyer’s house and found one, nearly dead, shriveled plant in a bathtub. Hyer served a month in jail and it effectively ended his political career. Kingsbury, was kicked off the City Council in the next round of elections. Morale of the story? Olympia city council is WAY more exciting than Bellingham.

Drew in Action

So what does this have to do with Kathleen Drew? Well, when I first met her, I asked her take on the story, all while making it clear that I was a die-hard Joe Hyer fan. I think I used the term “lousy stinking rat” to describe Kingsbury. But Drew patiently disagreed with me, saying that Kingsbury was a “good member of the community” who did what “he thought was right and I agree with him. Hyer was breaking the law.” At the time, I must admit I was a little irked, but in retrospect, she did something I wish more politicians would do. She had an opportunity to blatantly pander to a constituent and she passed. Not only that, but she told me her honest opinion despite the fact that it might lose her my support.

So a long story but the point is, I think I will be voting for Kathleen Drew this year. I realize Greg Nickels (fmr Mayor of Seattle) just jumped in, but I think I will stand with the honest woman who I agree with. Except about Thurston County politics.



  1. The people who know Greg Nickels best, have already made their assessment perfectly clear.

  2. Hey Riley,

    “She brought up her recent endorsement by the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, and how she was the only woman running for state-wide office.”

    Not exactly accurate…see

    Also a women and also running for Secretary of State.


  3. […] Senator Kastama is running for Secretary of State in 2012, right? So is state former state Senator Kathleen Drew (D-formerly of Issaquah, now of Thurston County) and Republican Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman. […]

  4. […] made a powerful speech about the need for progressive and pragmatic leadership in the house. Kathleen Drew, candidate for Secretary of State, complained about the lack of a voter’s pamphlet this year. […]

  5. […] of State: Kathleen Drew. I wrote about her here. State Treasurer: Jim McIntire State Auditor: Troy […]

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