VIDEO: 34th District Democrats review the election, preview the Legislature, and ‘Feel the Bern’

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Voting past, present, and future was what last night’s 34th District Democrats meeting at the The Hall at Fauntleroy was all about.

The present? Some actual voting happened – a presidential straw poll (Democratic, obviously). The results showed a majority of those still in attendance by this stage of the meeting were “Feeling the Bern”:

Bernie Sanders, 39 votes
Hillary Clinton, 26 votes
Undecided, 4 votes
Martin O’Malley, 2 votes

And this segued into future voting, as the organization is already starting work on getting ready for next year’s caucuses. Ted Barker, first vice chair (in photo above with chair Marcee Stone-Vekich), is heading the committee that will choose locations, and said they’re hoping to finalize those by next month.

Now, to the past voting – election recaps, and victory speeches. Here’s our video, starting with King County Executive Dow Constantine:

Constantine gave thanks for the passage of the Best Starts for Kids levy, with 56 percent of the vote. He also noted that “the King County Council will look a little more like King County in January, with the election of Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci [who defeated longtime councilmember Jane Hague] … a dynamic, thoughtful public official. She shows everyone that the eastside … these are Democratic jurisdictions … and don’t let anyone tell you (in next year’s Legislative elections) that any of those Eastside Republicans are safe.” (He had told us that on Election Night.) Tonight he celebrates “my 39th birthday for the 16th time” with his annual fundraiser at Kell’s Pub.

Second, Seattle Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, speaking to the group for the last time in that role, and expressing thanks for the Seattle Prop 1 transportation levy’s passage. However, he said that this area voted against it, as of a breakdown last Friday – 46% yes, 54% no. He also mentioned two of its named projects, Fauntleroy Boulevard and Lander Street Overcrossing.

Third, School Board member-elect Leslie Harris, saying she will be sworn in at 5 pm December 1st at district HQ (3rd and Lander), all invited. “One of the things I will live and die on is a mentor program,” she said, and promised to seek participation.

Fourth, Burien City Councilmember-elect Austin Bell, who said he was up by two votes on election night: “If anyone ever tells you your vote doesn’t matter, they’re wrong.”

Speaking of close races …

NO DISTRICT 1 CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER … but the six-vote gap between Shannon Braddock and Lisa Herbold in the District 1 City Council race was mentioned by chair Marcee Stone-Vekich early on, “two truly strong women, excellent, excellent people, proud to know both of them, can’t wait to see how this all turns out.”

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: All three of the 34th District’s state reps spoke. State Sen. Sharon Nelson led off by saying they never got to last year’s wrapup because of the “un-special special sessions.” Here’s our video of the entire update, including extensive Q/A from attendees:

This year’s session is two months away (January 11th). The big question, she says, is whether the Senate Republicans will “bring something serious to the floor” regarding education funding. Sen. Nelson said they hope to get their work done in 60 days and then in the elections, “retake the majority … it’s important … it’s important to the people of this state … the goal (for Republicans) is to get rid of unions in this state or to gut their impact.” She said the Environmental Committee, Republican-controlled, is seeking to gut regulations that protect the environment. And she noted that Sen. Patty Murray is up for re-election. Turnout is key, she said. “We either take it or we go ahead and watch a progressive state turn red, and watch everything we have worked on for decades change.”

34th Dist. State Rep. Eileen Cody also expressed concern about whether education funding would get addressed, and also about the state of Western State Hospital. The length of stay there is 300 days, she said, twice what it is at Eastern State Hospital, so “I’m in the mood for heads to roll.” (If you don’t already know, she is a nurse by profession and leads the Health Care Committee.) Paying attention to the heroin problem is vital too, for the health care and criminal-justice sectors. Cody also expressed hope that the newest Tim Eyman initiative, I-1366, passed in this election, will be “thrown out by the Supreme Court.”

State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon spoke of the Federal Way legislative race, which went to the Republican candidate, and had relatively low turnout. That party has narrowed the majority in the State House to 50 Democrats, 48 Republicans, he noted. “They think they’re coming for us and will pass their agenda next year,” he warned. Higher turnout will be vital. “If we don’t do that … if people (take the Legislature for granted) … we could wind up with a Republican majority in the House and Senate.” Fitzgibbon, whose signature issue is sustainability, also talked about how low gas prices are bringing in less tax money for cleanup programs that he said are now in Republican crosshairs. “They’re going to defund toxic cleanups for their friends in the oil industry.”

Rep. Cody was asked about the changes in medical cannabis rules – now you can grow six plants for yourself “if you’re not on the registry, more if you do go onto the registry … and if you’re going to buy through the stores, you don’t get the tax break if you’re not on the registry.”

Asked what they were most proud of, individual, Sen. Nelson said, “My caucus.” They walked out of a hearing on teachers to which the Republican leadership hadn’t invited the Washington Education Association. Rep. Fitzgibbon said he’s probably “most proud of things I’ve helped stop from happening,” including “big attacks on environmental laws … it’s not always a fair fight because the people who want to weaken these laws have unlimited money. … The attacks are relentless.” Rep. Cody spoke of the Rural Health Care Tour, which “we’ve been doing … for 20 years now.” They went to “critical access hospitals” in central/eastern Washington, and “this is the first time we’ve been to critical access hospitals that they’ve been making a profit. More people are covered, more people are ensured, the community is healthier.”

Other issues brought up – water for eastern Washington agriculture, the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TSA ID concerns. On the latter point, Sen. Nelson said they think they “have about a year to take action” on the latter issue. “We’re trying to at least find a first-step solution on that issue.” After a member concern about integrity among leaders and candidates, Sen. Nelson said they’re working on it but it’s hard. But when she feels despair, she remembers one big victory – same-sex marriage – the final victory after other “watered-down steps … if we can look at the path to get to (a) success eventually, then we as Democrats will have won.” She vowed to keep fighting payday lending, for example, “until the day I leave the Legislature.”

Chair Stone-Vekich wondered, “Can we get to a progressive income tax sometime this century?” Rep. Cody laughed ruefully, “No!” They all acknowledged the tax structure has to be fixed sometime.

The turnout issue came up yet again from an attendee. Rep. Fitzgibbon sounded an optimistic note, pointing out that the state historically has a strong Democratic turnout in presidential years, but the off-years are the problem.

Another attendee said that it would seem to make sense to cover the ballots’ postage cost so that voting isn’t discouraged among people who don’t have stamps. “What actions could you all take in the Legislature to say we’re going to take it to the next level (and) pay for people to return their ballots postage paid?”

Rep. Fitzgibbon said one big problem is that prepaid mail items aren’t postmarked. Could stamps be sent with ballots? That’s one possibility. He also brought up the shortage in dropboxes in King County – 10 of them, compared to 30 in Pierce County. Another attendee: Ballots are delivered too early – three weeks is too soon, and people lose track of theirs, she says. Rep. Cody says there still seems to be a prevailing belief that more time is better, but perhaps analysis should be done. Sen. Nelson says it’s easy to replace a ballot if you can’t find yours. Attendee: What about automatically registering people to vote when they turn 18, as Oregon does? Sen. Nelson says “there’s work being done on that.”

Her last words were concern that the general population “doesn’t even know Olympia exists.”

VETERANS DAY: Veteran Joy Pakulak led the Pledge of Allegiance; chair Stone-Vekich asked all veterans in the room to stand so they could be applauded.

NEXT MEETING: The 34th DDs will have a holiday party on December 9th, as is traditional, rather than a business meeting. 7 pm, The Hall at Fauntleroy. Watch for information in the meantime.

10 Replies to "VIDEO: 34th District Democrats review the election, preview the Legislature, and 'Feel the Bern'"

  • WSG November 12, 2015 (3:54 pm)

    Is this the 34th dist democrats or do you need to rename to the 34th district of socialists and democrats? Heck if Bernie is that much ahead maybe just drop the dems part?

  • Joe Szilagyi November 12, 2015 (3:54 pm)

    King County Population: 2,044,000
    Pierce county Population: 819,743

    So Pierce has one drop box for every 27,000 people… and King has one for every 204,000 people? Seriously?

    • WSB November 12, 2015 (3:56 pm)

      I’m sorry to say I haven’t taken the time yet to doublecheck those numbers. But I will.

  • redblack November 12, 2015 (4:45 pm)

    WSG: socialism is an economic model. democratic is the name of the political party.

    here in the PNW, socialism is not a form of government.

  • wscommuter November 12, 2015 (8:45 pm)

    It amazes me that people support Sanders, who has no chance to win. No chance at all. None.
    I’m not particularly a fan of Hillary’s, but recognize the difference between her as president and any of the R’s.
    One might like Sanders and all … but he is unelectable. Sorry to burst any bubbles … just dealing in reality.

  • Militant_Moderate November 13, 2015 (4:04 am)

    Actually, you know who has no chance of winning? Donald Trump. Ben Carson. Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz. Carly Fiorina. Jeb Bush. Have you heard and read the crazy things coming from them? These folks are building an immense library of quotes that can and will be used against them in campaign ads next year!

    Bernie Sanders can absolutely win IF people remember the specifics of Bill Clinton’s presidency and IF people take the time to listen to what Sanders saying.

  • redblack November 13, 2015 (4:57 am)

    wscommuter: some of us are sick and tired of the oval office going to the highest bidder, and we have a candidate in sanders that is sticking it to the corporations and individuals who own our goverments.

    you call that unelectable? i think sanders is the only principled choice out there.

  • LSG November 15, 2015 (4:59 pm)

    Could someone “in the know” please let me know if we are having both Caucuses (Mar 26) and also a Presidential Primary (May 24)?
    How will (Dem) delegates be selected? How many super delegates are they and are they bound on the first round to the wishes of the electorate?
    BTW, 8 years ago they said Obama was unelectable.

  • LSG November 16, 2015 (11:06 am)


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