Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 12, 2013

Young Voters Active in Whatcom County Politics

One of the most frustrating parts of being a young person involved in politics is the way our voices often get marginalized or sidelined. Whether it is the chest-thumping cry of, “My family has been living in Whatcom for three generations, you just came here to go to school.” Or the more condescending, “Maybe once you have (had kids, owned property, “worked a real job,” had some more experience, etc),  you will understand.” Too often, the older generations of political participants discount the younger generation’s participation.

I’m not saying every voice should be treated as an authority; many in this community share their wisdom from years of experience, and here at the Political Junkie, it took me a solid two years of blogging and political involvement to develop the readership I now enjoy. But I feel a need to highlight some of the work young activists are doing around the county to help shine a spotlight on some of their work.

With that longwinded opening, here are some highlights:

Picture by Kee May of the Western Front.

Picture by Kee May of the Western Front.

Last week, Western students took the battle against rising tuition to their representatives in a rather colorful way. On the lawn in front of Old Main, they played a game of dodgeball, but on each ball the student wrote the amount of debt they would accumulate by graduation. Patrick Stickney, currently WWU’s Associated Students Vice President for Government Affairs (how’s that for a title?) worked with a handful of other activist students to have all participants call Jay Inslee and majority leader Sen. Rodney Tom’s office and urge them to support a capital gains tax that would dedicate $175 million to higher education.  “We are tired of politicians dodging the issue,” Stickney said. Apparently the effort generated so many calls to Sen. Tom’s office that he set his phones to go directly to voice mail so he wouldn’t be bothered.

Outside of campus, the Whatcom Young Democrats continue to be quite active. This year, they endorsed the Chuckanut Ridge Park measure and are sending several of their members to a conference in Spokane to get political organizing training. Their current president, Lauren Hatch, was actually one of the Washington delegates to the national nominating convention in Charlotte last year.

On the other side of the aisle (kind of), Johnny Weaver continues his trajectory as a young organizer. After being the lead voice against the red light cameras in 2011, he (along with a whole team of inspired young voters) worked tirelessly on the Ron Paul campaign before having their team shut out at the Whatcom County Republican convention. However, that hasn’t stopped his momentum. Currently, he is the statewide director of the Washington Accountability Government Project which is  a libertarian-themed watchdog group aimed at state corruption.

Beneath the surface, there are even more young campaign managers in training, organizers queuing for the fight over the Gateway Pacific Terminal (for and against) and just plain well-informed voters who talk to their friends and families about what concerns or inspires them. I’ll lay off the sermonizing, although since we are down one Pope there is probably a bit of a sermon-deficit, and just urge you to empower, listen and work with the young activists in Whatcom County. Because they are moving on up.



  1. Good news. And many thanks Riley. It is always hard to think one’s voice is heard, especially when young. But is youthful energy that has made all the difference even when we were organizing to end the war in Viet Nam and re-electing progressives through and until now. My old grey head knows it and marvels with a smile.

  2. No doubt about it–you young whippersnappers are our hope. The world will be as you make it. But HURRY. We are running out of time.

  3. Gee, now who would lock-out a group of enthusiastic young voices touting the Pure Republicanism of Dr. Paul from participation in local GOP caucuses?
    Hint: She just made the BIg Time in State GOPism.
    Here all along I thought elitism was just a horrid Liberal disease especially after Chairman Crabtree plead his desire for a variety of groups – even OWS! – in his party bringing strong ideals and clear motives – stuff he could embrace as useful discussion for changing policy.
    Could it be there’s really no room for anything except the status quo outside Republican’s Haughty Talk of inclusion?
    I think so.

  4. […] It is one of my goals of this blog to highlight young political organizers. Too often, they get stereotyped as ineffective activists however there are scores of people making a big impact on their community. I wrote about some of them earlier this year. […]

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