Report from the Democratic Chair

May 10, 2021 by stephenshubert

Meeting With Legislators:  We had the presence of Senator Liz Lovelett and Representative Alex Ramel at our county Democrats meeting this past Saturday.  We heard their perspectives on quite a number of topics, and lots of our questions were answered.  Here are a few of the highlights:
   * Congressman Ramel spoke about going into the session with 4 big priorities: COVID recovery, economic recovery, responding to the historic civil rights movement, confronting the climate crisis. He believes they have responded to those priorities in a big way. Not as many bills died this year. The large shift in politics is believed to be from all the grass roots level activism provided by folks like us.
   *While the final climate bill was not all we wanted, it is still a historic achievement, and it incorporated many of the good provisions from the WA Strong Act.
   *Sen. Lovelett secured for us the state funding to conduct a water capacity analysis in San Juan County.  Combined with some funding from the USGS and implementation by USGS, we will be able to finally know what the real population capacity is for our county based on available water.  This is a hugely important tool to help the county plan for the future.
   *Arrests for drug use will no longer be a felony; instead, they will become a misdemeanor and eventually an infraction.  The Legislature knows that 81-95% of drug users want help, yet only 11% get help, so almost half a billion dollars is being invested in this effort.
   *The formerly incarcerated are having their voting rights restored upon having served their time.  This has been shown to reduce the rate of recidivism.
   *Most of the criminal justice proposals related to police were adopted.  The chokehold and no-knock warrants are banned, militarized police equipment is banned, and a use of force standard that prioritizes de-escalation was adopted.  A few other bills were passed in this area, but it is recognized that there is more to be done.

Endorsement Process: One of the somewhat controversial issues we deal with is whether to endorse in nonpartisan races.  We know that some people are not happy about political parties getting involved in nonpartisan races, so it has not been our policy to engage in all of these.  However, there are people who appreciate and rely on our endorsements when voting, which is why we put out a voter postcard in presidential election years.  In addition, while some positions may be technically nonpartisan, a ploy sometimes used by minority parties is to make positions nonpartisan in order to hang onto power.  For instance, as our state becomes more heavily Democratic, it is rumored that our only statewide elected Republican, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, wants to make her position nonpartisan.  Another factor to consider in whether to endorse is the need to build the bench of candidates who will in the future run for higher positions; they have to start somewhere, and Port or School Board or Fire Commissioner are good places to start.  The 40th LD would like to endorse this year in county council, city council and port commissioner races.  We discussed how far we want our county party to go in this endeavor, and it was the consensus that we should send an email to all who file, giving them the chance to seek our endorsement.  We would not endorse anyone who does not want our endorsement, and we would certainly vet anyone who applies to us for an endorsement.  Positions included will be FH city council, port commissioner, school board, parks and recreation commissioners, fire commissioners, water commissioners, hospital commissioners, and cemetery commissioners.  Four of us volunteered to be part of an endorsements committee.  If there is anyone reading this note who was not at the meeting and would like to help with endorsements, please let me know.

Lummi Woodcarvers: The Lummi woodcarvers have created a huge totem pole that they will be driving across the country, stopping at sacred sites along the way, then delivering it to President Biden.  Eventually it will go to the Smithsonian.  But before they start the journey, they are coming to visit their traditional home here in the San Juans, and there will be events on the three largest islands:

RED ROAD TO DC 2021 Totem Pole Journey to Protect Sacred Sites
A totem pole carved at the Lummi Nation from a 400-year-old red cedar will begin a cross-country journey next month, evoking an urgent call to protect sacred lands and waters of Indigenous people.  The journey called the Red Road to DC, will culminate in early June in Washington, D.C.
Lummi tribal member Jewell Praying Wolf James with The House of Tears Carvers will kick-off the Red Road to DC Totem Pole Journey to Protect Sacred Sites with three stop-overs in their traditional territory of the San Juan Islands:
San Juan Island – Monday, May 10, 2:30-4:30 pm, Pe’pi’ow’elh, Mitchell Bay Lhaq’temish Village (English Camp, San Juan Island National Historical Park)
Orcas Island – Tuesday, May 11, 12:30-2 pm Orcas Island, Madrona Point Lhaq’temish Village
Lopez Island – Tuesday, May 11, 4-5 pm Sxw’alech (Odlin County Park)
     After traveling across traditional lands and throughout the US, the totem pole will be gifted to the Biden administration in June and displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.  
     All gatherings will abide by covid-19 safety measures of mask-wearing, socially distancing, and hand sanitizing. Events will also appear on Facebook Live.
     Donations can be made at the event or to the:
Lhaq’temish Foundation c/o House of Tears Carvers
2665 Kwina Road, Bellingham WA 98226 (360) 312-2114
     For more information, please contact:
NW Road Manager, Sul ka dub Freddie Lane (360) 391-7560
National Director, Dr. Kurt Russo (360) 961-4554
San Juan Islands Stopover Coordinator, Stephanie Buffum (360) 472-0404

Submitted by:

David Turnoy
Chair, San Juan County Democrats

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