Democratic caucus first step in picking delegates

MUKILTEO — Four years ago, some 3,000 people jammed Kamiak High School to participate in the raucous Democratic caucuses, with participants divided between support of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

This year, there’s little question of who the party’s nominee will be. And on a sunny Sunday afternoon, just 91 people felt compelled to return to Kamiak to participate.

Alex Hendrickson, 35, sat by herself Sunday at a round table in high school’s cafeteria with a small sign designating her precinct — Everett 83.

Four years ago, she said, she attended a caucus in downtown Everett. “Thousands of people were there,” she said. Hendrickson said discussions went on for four-and-a-half hours, at which point her daughter, Julia Hoyt, then 2, “couldn’t handle it any more.”

Her daughter was with her at Sunday’s caucuses, too. “It’s important for her to understand civic involvement,” Hendrickson said.

Sunday’s caucuses were the first of a three-step process to select delegates for the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C.

Another round of caucuses will be held in each of the 49 legislative districts April 28, with a final round of ballots on May 20 to pick delegates who will attend the national convention.

Michael Wittenbrink and Stephanie Dilbeck, both 22 and Meadowdale High School graduates, were representing the Woodgate precinct near Lynnwood.

Dilbeck, who attends Western Washington University, said that four years ago, some students walked through campus enthusiastically banging pots and pans with wooden spoons in response to Obama’s election.

She said she thinks Obama can get the support of younger voters in this fall’s elections, too, but it won’t be quite the same.

Betty Coon, 77, of Mukilteo, said she turned out Sunday as part of her support for women’s reproductive rights.

“I have three daughters,” she said. “I don’t want their rights taken from them.”

Henry Vandevanter, 59, of Everett, said for much of his life he had been a Republican, but switched his party affiliation after George W. Bush’s election.

Vandevanter, trained as a drafter, said he’s only been able to work for 14 months since December 2008.

“Times were down,” he said. “I feel the results of Democratic efforts that have supported me.”

Paul Ferrari, of Edmonds, said he wasn’t disappointed with Sunday’s turnout. “This is what I expected,” he said. “We’ve only got one candidate.”

“It was wonderful to have the energy of 2008,” he said. “We’ll get them enthusiastic during the campaign.”

Ferrari, 67, a retired systems analyst who worked at Seattle City Light, said he plans to encourage friends and acquaintances to volunteer in the fall elections, and will take a little of his own advice.

“I’ll be out there doorbelling,” he said.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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