Even his critics admired Reagan

From the halls of Congress to the streets of Snohomish County, President Reagan’s election in 1980 dramatically affected the hearts, minds and politics of the nation.

Former Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., also won election that year, and said the force of change powered by Reagan’s policies and persona was palpable.

“The tremendous challenge and excitement of the first six months of his presidency represented the sharpest change in American politics in the 20th century, with the exception of the beginning of the Great Depression,” Gorton said Friday.

“I think we were all taken up by what was going on,” added Gorton, who serves on the national 9-11 commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Reagan’s two terms brought significant change in domestic and foreign policies that never drew support from former U.S. Rep. Al Swift, a Democrat who represented Snohomish County in his eight terms from 1978 to 1994.

“I didn’t agree with him on anything,”’ but the differences were not personal, Swift said. “The man had an enormous amount of grace and class. The way he carried himself, the elan, was really quite extraordinary. Whether you agreed with him or not, you had to admire him.”

Swift said he finds the current rush to pay tribute to Reagan excessive. He found it ironic that the supreme opponent of big government could end up having his name on the Pentagon, one of the largest federal buildings.

“I can’t think Ronald Reagan would be so eager to have everything named after him,” Swift said.

Frauna Hoglund, chairwoman of the Snohomish County Republican Party, credits Reagan with restoring her faith in the wake of the Vietnam War.

“I became a strong activist after that,” she said. “I consider myself a Reagan Republican. I hardly know a person who wasn’t inspired by Ronald Reagan.”

Paul Elvig, a former chairman of the county Republican Party, had the opportunity in 1980 to be a presidential elector for Washington state who cast a vote for Reagan in the nation’s electoral college.

Standing outside Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, he said his strongest recollection of Reagan came after the president was shot.

“I remember how he reacted, what he said, and what that did for people. I’ll never forget the way he responded,” Elvig said. “It was the first time I felt I was in the presence of pure leadership.”

Gary Nelson was majority leader of the state House of Representatives when he met the newly elected President Reagan in 1981.

“I immediately felt his charismatic personality. He made everybody feel very important,” said Nelson, a Republican who is now a Snohomish County council member.

He credited Reagan for a foreign policy that helped end the Cold War, a domestic policy that shrank the size of government and leadership that instilled hope in the country.

“There’s no question in my mind,” he said, “that the things he did as president will achieve a ranking as among the most important of any president.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

Snohomish County likely to feel more like winter, beginning Monday

Get ready for a mix of rain and snow this week, along with cooler temperatures.

Anthony Boggess
Arlington man sentenced for killing roommate who offered shelter

Anthony Boggess, 33, reported hearing the voices of “demons” the night he strangled James Thrower, 65.

Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, left, a member of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, speaks Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, right, looks on at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. After the speech, Inslee signed a bill sponsored by McCoy that seeks to improve oral health on Indian reservations in Washington state. The measure is the first bill the governor has signed this legislative session and it allows tribes to use federal funding for dental therapists. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Curriculum on state tribes to be renamed after late Tulalip legislator

On Tuesday, John McCoy’s former colleagues in the Senate honored the late lawmaker by passing House Bill 1879.

Man stabbed, killed inside Lynnwood-area condo

Detectives were looking to identify suspects in a killing Monday night at the Brio Condominiums.

Everett Housing Authority is asking for city approval for it’s proposed development of 16 acres of land currently occupied by the vacant Baker Heights public housing development on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
North Everett housing project plan gets taller with 15-story buildings

The original plans for the Park District called for 12-story apartments. Another public hearing is set for March 5.

Mt. Pilchuck covered in snow is barely visible through the clouds as the sun breaks through illuminating raindrops as they fall off of the Mountain Loop Highway on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Active’ weather brings rain, snow, hail, fresh powder to Snohomish County

Up to an inch of snow could accumulate in the lowlands. Three inches of rain could fall in Darrington. And Stevens Pass is “doing quite well.”

Cousins Penny Leslie and Sidney Baker work together on a mural inside a jail cell at the Mukilteo Police Department on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
No more staring at blank canvas in Mukilteo police holding cells

Bright murals now adorn the walls. The artwork is intended to calm and relax detainees.

Joanne Fisher, right, a meat wrapper with the Marysville Albertsons, hands a leaflet to a shopper during an informational campaign on  Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Fisher was one of about a dozen grocery store workers handing out leaflets to shoppers about the proposed merger between Albertsons and Kroger. (Mike Henneke / The Herald)
US sues to block merger of grocery giants Kroger, Albertsons

Grocery workers in Snohomish County and elsewhere have argued the merger would stymie competition and hurt workers.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee during its meeting on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, where the panel indicated it would not move ahead with legislation to cap residential rent increases at 7%. The move effectively killed the bill for the 2024 legislative session. (Bill Lucia/Washington State Standard)
Plan for 7% statewide cap on rent increases fails in Olympia

State Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett, told reporters the bill did not have enough support to move it forward.

Shoppers cross Alderwood Mall Parkway after leaving the mall and walking through its parking lot on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood police seek 3 suspects after pursuit, brief shootout

The driver of a stolen car intentionally hit a teen boy Sunday, officers said. Police pursued the suspects near I-5.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.