Northwesterners hate politics. Leave the chattering to the chattering classes, we say. So much sound and fury, signifying nonsense.
But there are many good people, unusually productive and mission-driven, who toil at public life. They patiently listen to the gripers and the “you work for me” chorus, brace against the egos, and learn to navigate the Leviathan of federal, state and county government to deliver for constituents.
Come election time, they cold call strangers to plead for dough to fund yard signs and mailers, which then get recycled. Candidates pose with prize goats at the Monroe Fair and ride in convertibles with red-white-and-blue bunting, waving and tossing candy. It’s Miss America meets the Music Man, with assorted hisses and thumbs down to spoil the show.
Yes, campaign season is upon us. Ideally, like much of the rest of the country, Washingtonians would be voting in June, rather than an early August primary. That’s OK. There are multiple races worth watching.
Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene, a formidable and impressive freshman, represents the maddeningly drawn First Congressional District. From Medina to Marblemount, the First is a case study in how not to pencil lines on a map. No matter. It’s evenly split politically, which automatically makes it competitive. Republican Pedro Celis, a retired Microsoft engineer, poses a challenge.
Everett independent Mike Lapointe plans a spirited campaign against well-funded, longtime Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen. Republican B.J. Guillot also is running.
One likely-to-be-very-polite contest pits incumbent Snohomish County Executive John Lovick against Republican Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick. Both are level-headed and delightfully unscreedish. It could be a race if Eslick raises enough money to broadcast her small-business message.
Several freshman legislators will be tested in the fall, although most have shoehorned good works into a short span. Republican Rep. Dave Hayes, a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputy, continues to impress colleagues on both sides of the aisle with his collaborative style and focus on public safety. Democratic Reps. Lillian Ortiz-Self and June Robinson, both appointees, demonstrate commitment and promise, but face genuine competition in November.
Last year, Everett had one of the lowest voter turnouts at 36 percent, with Mayor Ray Stephanson and two out of three city councilmembers running unopposed.
2014 is a different animal, with bona fide contests that matter. Read up, get involved. Don’t leave it to the chattering classes.