Report on May 1 SJC Democratic Convention

May 10, 2016 by David Dehlendorf



Learn who was selected on May 1 as our county’s Clinton and Sanders delegates to the 2nd Congressional District Democratic Caucus on May 21.

San Juan County Democratic Party Convention Report
By David Turnoy, Vice Chair, Orcas Island

San Juan County Democrats may have been wondering what happened with those delegates and alternates recently elected at the San Juan County Democratic Presidential Primary Precinct Caucuses on San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, Shaw, Waldron, and Decatur islands. On Sunday, May 1, these delegates and alternates participated in the county convention in Friday Harbor. 104 delegates had been elected on March 26, and almost that many alternates. Some delegates were replaced by alternates as they notified us that they were unable to attend, and seven unannounced delegates who failed to attend were replaced by alternates.

Once the alternates were seated, we had the same split of Bernie and Hillary delegates that we had coming out of the precinct caucuses: 79 delegates for Bernie Sanders and 25 delegates for Hillary Clinton. Because our county is allocated five delegates to go on to the 2nd Congressional District Caucus on May 21 and the state convention, four delegates were allocated to Bernie and one for Hillary. Under the rules, if one candidate has more than 75% of the delegates, s/he gets both of our alternates, so they both went to Bernie.

Close to 30 people ran to be a delegate for Bernie to the next level, and about 10 ran to represent Hillary. Each had to speak to their whole caucus to try to woo the voters. Once the secret ballot was completed, Diane Martindale of San Juan Island emerged as a landslide victor for the opportunity to represent Hillary. The Bernie delegates are Learner Limbach and Marta Nielson, both of Orcas, and Robert O’Connell and Kate Czaya, both of Lopez. The two alternates for Bernie are Susan Toch and Barbara Starr, both of San Juan Island.

Once the delegate selection was complete, the convention moved into the consideration of resolutions to send on to the state platform committee. I had chaired a platform committee that worked on sifting through the more than 50 proposals that came out of the precinct caucuses. Many of these proposals are actually already in our state party platform, which is extremely progressive in its content. If you care to see what the Washington State Democrats stand for, at least on paper, I encourage you to go to and click on the link to “Platform”. Proposals submitted at the precinct caucuses that relate to items already in the platform are being submitted in the form of platform amendments to the state platform committee, as we were told the committee would only really consider about five resolutions from each county and legislative district. If you are interested in knowing about those, you are welcome to contact me for our list.

We passed six resolutions at the convention. The first is an effort to reform our state election season as follows: change the current Democratic Party reliance on a caucus to a three-step process where the first step is a town hall forum in each locality around the state for voters to get information, the second step is the statewide primary where everyone votes and the results are used to determine the delegates allocated to each candidate, and step three is a caucus where only those interested in running for a delegate position would attend. This still allows the best parts of the caucus but eliminates (for those folks merely wanting to vote) having to crowd into a small, chaotic space to vote. Other provisions of this comprehensive resolution include eliminating superdelegates, aligning the timing of primaries or caucuses of WA, OR, and CA with the early Nevada caucus so that our region has more influence on the presidential race, and requiring delegates to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged on the first ballot, among other items. This provision with the three-step process outlined here started with a conversation I had with Orcas resident Fred Klein, and it was put into its final form by Robert O’Connell of Lopez.

Our next resolution was to support the carbon tax initiative that will be on the November ballot, I-732, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. This was submitted by Bill Appel of Waldron, who actually has written the language for the initiative.

Our third resolution deals with the impacts of increased Navy activity in our region, including the Growlers, EMF radiation emitted from Navy equipment, and war games to take place on public lands throughout western Washington. Cynthia Dilling of Lopez and the local citizens who have been fighting the life-changing effects of the Growlers for years prepared this resolution.

Our fourth resolution, from San Juan resident Pam Finley, calls on Congress to repeal a section of the 1996 Telecommunications Act which allows communications companies to determine where they would like to locate cell towers with no input from local government. Repealing this section would allow local governments to prevent towers from being put in places where they will cause detrimental health effects.

Gay Wilmerding of San Juan Island presented a resolution that requires warning signage be posted at all facilities where religious belief takes precedence over best medical practice. The measure would also require the ending of public subsidies like property tax levies, tax abatement and charitable donations to facilities that allocate service based on religious preference. Until such practices change, these medical facilities would be taxed at regular business rates.

The final resolution passed is a measure to require that guns be engraved with a gun identification number to assure ownership and transfer of ownership, that a use license be issued requiring competency and safety in gun use, and that liability insurance be required to allow for recourse for victims of gun violence. This measure was submitted by Walt Cooter of San Juan Island, with the aim being to treat guns the same way as another dangerous item in our society is treated, namely automobiles.

We ran out of time to consider other issues of interest. We hope to continue consideration of further issues at an upcoming meeting of the local Democrats. I have proposed the date of May 21 for this meeting, and I am waiting to hear back from other local party leaders.

Many people’s hard work went into making this day a success. The credentials committee, which consists of the folks who checked in all the delegates and alternates, replaced missing delegates, and tallied the votes, was chaired by Geri Turnoy and Arthur Vangelder. Other helpful members were Marilyn Parman, Walt Cooter, Susan Williamson, Learner Limbach, Randy and Kathy Moss, Kirman Taylor, Robert Hall, Susan Grout, and Jamie Stephens. Thanks to those on the platform committee, especially Robert O’Connell, Lovel Pratt, Glenn Hendrick, Tom Munsey, and the others who contributed their thoughts and efforts. David Dehlendorf, our permanent county chair, was in constant email contact from abroad. Eric Vittinghoff, a master of spreadsheet manipulation and other computer-related wizardry, was an invaluable contributor by presenting the lists of delegates in each way we needed. Walt Cooter and Diane Martindale were extremely helpful in marshaling their respective delegates and in helping with decisions and other odds and ends, including name tags, opening the hall and cleaning the hall, and getting and returning extra chairs. Robert O’Connell helped out with a variety of items at our head table at the convention, Ron Claybourn was our parliamentarian with help from Robert O’Connell and Ry Barbin, with the latter also serving as our secretary. Alan Rounds was kind enough to do me the favor of accepting the position of sergeant at arms. Thanks to Laura Jo Severson for helping to open the hall. Thanks to all the delegates and alternates who gave up their Sunday, a gorgeous day which we all would have enjoyed by being outside, to further the work of participatory democracy. And a final thank you to anyone I may have missed.

The 2nd Congressional District caucus on May 21 will elect seven delegates and no alternates to the national convention. We should all wish our delegates well in their efforts at this event and the state convention, especially should they choose to run for delegate to the national event.

Don’t forget to vote in the Democratic presidential primary, currently meaningless but hopefully soon to be the avenue of choosing our delegates, especially if we have a large showing that proves to the state party that many more people will vote if there is a primary instead of having to attend a caucus to vote.

Finally, while local democracy can be a lot of work, it actually provides a chance to get things accomplished, and should you wish to participate further in the local Democratic Party, feel free to contact me at 376-4165 or

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