This weekend, I had the honor of MC-ing the Whatcom Democrats Picnic, hosted by the Democratic Women’s Club of Whatcom County. Almost all the democratic candidates for office were there, along with lots of volunteers and party stalwarts. Through the many candidate speeches, a common thread emerged from the elected officials: it is no fun being in the minority.
The featured speaker was the fightin’ senator from the 40th, Sen. Kevin Ranker, who spoke at length about the difficulties of legislating after two democratic turncoats joined with the Republicans to put the Democrats in the minority. “It is one thing when you lose at the ballot box, when the voters decide that they don’t like your candidates or ideas. It is another thing when two people decide to turn their back on their constituents because they want power. That is the only thing holding together this coalition, literally the only thing they have in common. They all want to stay in power.”
When asked, he spoke about Sen. Doug Ericksen’s love of free meals with lobbyists. Ranker pointed out an important fact, Ericksen drove back to Ferndale almost every weekend this session, meaning that if you take those days out of his schedule, he was dining with lobbyists almost every day he was in Olympia. “It is obscene,” Ranker stated.
Carl Weimer echoed Ranker’s frustration with legislating from the minority when he spoke about sitting on the council with a conservative majority. “It is not enough to just elect two of us, or three of us,” referring to Rud Browne, Ken Mann, Barry Buchanan and himself. “You need to elect all four if we are going to make meaningful change in this county.”
Over at the Port, Mike McAuley spoke about the difficulties of working with elected officials who won’t even bother to listen. “I sit there and speak about the concerns and questions I have, and after I’m done I look over at Jim (Jorgensen) and Scott (Walker) and they just stare right ahead and say, ‘Next speaker, please.’ We need to have Renata on the Port Commission if we are going to make a difference.”
It was an interesting contrast where Democrats have dominated on a state level, occupying all the state-wide seats in Washington except for one (Secretary of State). Yet on the local level there is an intense frustration with conservatives. Sen. Ranker did point out he can work with some of the Republican senators but when they start “legislating to the lowest common-denominator,” he is unable to find reasonable compromise.
Other attendees included City Council candidates Roxanne Murphy and Pinky Vargas. Debbie Adelstein spoke about the importance of voting. I managed to ask her if she had any predictions for turnout. “Nope. This is not Vegas, I don’t do that sort of thing. I have no idea what’s going to happen.” I pointed out that, “Adelstein: I have no idea what’s going on,” makes a great headline. Adelstein pointed out that if she knew exactly how an election was supposed to go, wouldn’t that be even more suspicious. Crushed by her logic, I returned to my delicious desserts.
Tomorrow, I will be live-blogging the results of the election, providing the Copper Hog’s internet holds out, starting at 7:00pm-ish. Articles on tap for this week include some more jail reporting, details on the pending hospital merger from a brand new guest columnist and some predictions for the coming political season.