True-blue patriot


Herald Writer

MONROE – June Riggs says her baby boomer children think she’s nuts.

But she says she’s just a "true-blue patriotic American."

And to prove it, she spent Wednesday walking U.S. 2 to let people know she’s thinking about challenging Slade Gorton, R-Wash., for his seat in the U.S. Senate.

"Nobody in politics right now is patriotic enough for me," said the 78-year-old great-grandmother. "Not the Republicans and not the Democrats."

Gorton is an "all right guy," Riggs said. "But he’s not answered all my questions."

A resident of Mountlake Terrace, Riggs said she’s written Gorton to ask why American companies, such as Nike, are allowed to run "sweatshops" in foreign countries.

"Those workers are being paid about 20 cents an hour to put together shoes that American companies are getting rich on," she said. "There’s something really wrong with that."

Press officials in Gorton’s office did not return telephone calls from The Herald to comment on Riggs’ criticisms.

Her concerns about foreign workers, veterans, Social Security widows, farmers and young couples brought her to wear a bright pink hat and a sign that said "June Riggs: Exploring U.S. Senate. Fix the GOP." She started walking about 8:30 a.m.

She made the nine-and-a-half-mile walk along the two-lane highway from east of Everett to Monroe in three hours. Her daughter, Patti Jo Williams, walked with her ,and her grandson, Clint Johnson, drove alongside to offer water when needed.

"I would rather somebody 30 years old do what I’m doing," she said, of her walk and her questioning the state of patriotism today. "But I don’t see them doing it. So I’m asking, ‘What’s going on here?’"

Riggs’ patriotic roots go deep, to the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. She was 20 years old and in a civil service job in Hawaii. She and other Americans were evacuated. She returned to Seattle to take a Department of Defense job writing certificates for pilots who were in the B-29 school.

She married and had five children. Her husband, Bill, who died in 1997, was a construction worker.

Riggs ran a shop called The Athlete, which sold athletic shoes and gear. It was successful for many years, until chain stores undercut it in prices, and it had to close, she said.

"That gets right at what I’m saying," she said. "It’s small businesses that get hurt by the large companies."

They are one of several categories of victims she calls "tax gapees."

"Small businesses, small farmers and young people just starting out can’t get anywhere because of the high taxes they pay," she said. "The tax system is so expansive that it causes the small operations to die out. We need tax relief."

She also thinks veterans’ benefits should be increased.

"They were promised that they’d be taken care of," she said.

And she thinks Social Security doesn’t treat widows fairly.

"When their husbands die, they are cut off," she said.

Riggs, a grandmother of 12 and a great-grandmother of five, isn’t new to politics. She served on the Edmonds School Board from 1985 to 1993 and ran for Democratic Sen. Warren G. Magnuson’s U.S. Senate seat in the 1970s. There were 10 candidates in that Republican primary, and she got only a minimal showing.

When her walk was completed Wednesday, Riggs said she felt good. She trained by taking on Brier Hill every day for weeks.

"Several people honked" to show support, she said. No one stopped to talk, however. "My sign may have got them thinking."

She’s waiting until the official filing period next week to decide whether to mount a full-fledged campaign for Senate on the Republican ticket.

"We’ll see what’s cooking," she said. "If people say I should and that it’s time for someone like me in Washington (D.C.), then we’ll go for it."

And, she may try another attention-getting walk.

"I’m not retiring my New Balance shoes yet," she said, noting they are American made.

You can call Herald Writer Leslie Moriarty at 425-339-3436 or send e-mail to

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Fatal 2-car crash closes Highway 99 in Lynnwood

Police closed off Highway 99 between 188th Street SW and 196th Street SW while they investigated.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read