For Jackie Minchew, what’s local is global and what’s global is local.
A five-time candidate for Everett City Council, he has never won a seat but hasn’t lost his zeal for civic issues. “I’ve always been a meeting junkie,” said Minchew, 68, a retired music teacher.
His involvement in Everett includes leading the Lowell Neighborhood Association. An Arkansas native, he and his wife, Phyllis, have lived in Everett’s historic Lowell neighborhood since 1990. “In my life, I’ve never felt more at home than in Everett,” Minchew said Monday.
Minchew’s political activism will be recognized Saturday when the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County honors him with its 2018 Democracy in Action Award. The group will mark the 98th anniversary of the League’s founding at a luncheon in the Jackson Conference Center at Everett Community College. Rachael McClinton, from the Seattle-based Living Voices performance troupe, will portray the challenges women faced fighting for the vote.
Pat Fogarty-Cramer, president of the local League, said the annual award is given “in recognition of outstanding achievement for long-term commitment to enhancing democracy.” Nominations come from group members and the public. She said Minchew “speaks out on a number of issues that the League supports, from climate change to equality for all.”
The award “was a total surprise for me,” Minchew said. “I’m honored and very appreciative.”
Involved with 350 Everett, a group focused on the environment, Minchew is so concerned about climate change that he has twice been arrested. In 2014, he was one of five protesters opposed to oil and coal shipments who became known as the “Delta 5.”
Their attempt to block railroad tracks in north Everett’s Delta rail yard landed Minchew in the Snohomish County Jail for a night. “It was as unpleasant as you would think,” he said of his incarceration.
In January 2016, a jury in district court found the five defendants guilty of criminal trespass on BNSF Railway property, but not guilty of obstructing or delaying a train. Minchew, who has completed his two years on probation, was also among hundreds of climate-change activists briefly detained after protesting outside the White House several years back.
The group 350 Everett is part of the national 350.org organization. It was founded by Bill McKibben, author of “Fight Global Warming Now.” The number comes from a 2007 research paper saying that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is an upper limit to avoid climate crises. Today’s CO2 level is over 400.
Climate change remains top of mind for Minchew, who jumps on a bicycle for most errands. He rides his bike about 2,000 miles a year.
Minchew ran unsuccessful Everett City Council races in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. After the third time — he had opposed Arlan Hatloe in those races — Minchew said his wife told him, “That’s enough, Jackie.”
“But I got away with two more,” said Minchew, noting that he ran in 2011 and 2013 because Shannon Affholter and Scott Murphy would otherwise have been unopposed. “It’s unbelievable how much I learned being a candidate, and how many people I got to know,” he said.
Minchew often attends Everett council meetings. He supports the Everett Districts Now effort that would change how voters choose council members. The League of Women Voters and Minchew favor a ballot measure that would let voters decide whether Everett should be divided into five districts — that plan would mean five City Council seats elected by district, and two elected at-large.
“Parts of the city never see a representative,” Minchew said.
A father of two grown children, Minchew taught music for 33 years, including 14 years in the Everett district and 10 on Whidbey Island. He still works as a substitute teacher. “Music never does anyone any harm,” he said.
After high school, he had dropped out of Arkansas Polytechnic College. He credits his wife for urging him to finish his education. Minchew was 31 when he graduated from Colorado State University.
The League’s award announcement said that along with his interest in environmental and city issues, Minchew is working on Map Your Neighborhood and Block Watch efforts in Lowell, with a goal of boosting disaster preparedness. A nomination for Minchew cited his “kindness, knowledge, political activism, love of neighborhood and its people, and ongoing love of our country.”
“When I look back on my life, I generally wanted to be of use. I like to think I have been,” Minchew said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@herald net.com.
The League of Women Voters of Snohomish County is a nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy through education and action. Membership is open to men and women; members must be 16 or older. The group does not support individual candidates, but takes positions on issues. Information: www.lwvsnoho.org