EVERETT — A new Snohomish County nonprofit is the “next step” for two Snohomish County Council members who wants to bridge partisan gaps.
Council members Jared Mead and Nate Nehring announced the plan at the end of a meeting Monday advocating for bipartisanship to over 100 attendees at the WSU Everett campus.
The event included keynote speeches from state Lt. Gov. Denny Heck and former Congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler. Attendees were also asked to take a pledge that begins: “It is the duty of all people who participate in political dialogue to do so in good faith and with civility.”
The nonprofit will be called Building Bridges and focus on youth. Mead and Nehring said they have met with 25 schools in Snohomish County to promote better conversations between those on opposite ends of the political spectrum. They have also held public meetings with local social organizations.
“The nonprofit is something we’re going to use, too, as a vehicle to help us to continue to go into schools to talk with youth, college level and high school level to and help them engage with things like social media, things like our current political system, help them have difficult conversations, and practice and teach the tools for those conversations,” Mead said at the event.
Nehring added: “We’ve always wondered what the next step was.”
Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin and two local mayors — Lynnwood’s Christine Frizzell and Stanwood’s Sid Roberts — also answered questions on a panel moderated by Mead and Nehring.
Roberts recalled a time when he was knocking on doors for his mayoral campaign, and someone asked him: “What do you think about abortion?”
“Well,” he answered, “we do water and sewer.”
Conversations focused on political leaders explaining how partisanship has hampered their jobs. The event also touched on better ways to communicate with one another about politics across party lines.
“We don’t have to hate each other just because we disagree,” Heck said.
Herrera-Beutler spoke about her time in Congress and her experience with bipartisan efforts to pass legislation. She also said the whole effort is not asking people to take centrist positions.
“You can have ardent and passionate beliefs that put you squarely in the middle of where your political ideology is, it all comes down to how you treat people,” Herrera-Beutler said. “And how you treat people with whom you disagree.”