U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (right), D-Medina, with U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Artondale, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. (Contributed photo)

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (right), D-Medina, with U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Artondale, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. (Contributed photo)

Washingtonians bear witness to ‘democracy moving forward’

In “a moment to breathe and hope,” Snohomish County leaders witnessed the swearing in of President Joe Biden.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell contemplated skipping the inauguration.

A similar thought crossed the mind of U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene.

Only two weeks earlier, a mob launched a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol disrupting Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory as president.

There was reason to be nervous, but both Democratic lawmakers showed up, saying they wanted to stand up for democracy and to bear witness as Biden assumed the presidential reins and Kamala Harris made history as the first woman to serve as vice president.

“Today showed our democracy moving forward and we would not be deterred,” said DelBene, of Medina, one of three members of the House representing parts of Snohomish County.

Cantwell said she “felt like everybody was there to defend our democracy and to say we’re standing up for this institution. It felt powerful up there.”

Hillary Moralez of Bothell, the former chairwoman of the Snohomish County Democratic Party, sensed it, too, while watching on television.

“I am proud to see the way our country has come back together to uphold the transfer of leadership,” she said. “Seeing our leaders across both aisles standing on the steps of a Capitol only recently under siege is a reminder of our better political selves. We still have so much work to do, but we have all earned a moment to breathe and hope.”

Biden’s call for unity in his inauguration speech resonated strongly with Democrats.

“That message is so important and stands in contrast to the message (Donald) Trump delivered in his inauguration. That was so dark,” DelBene said.

Harris’ ascension to vice president literally gave many goosebumps. She is the first Black woman and the first South Asian American to hold the nation’s second-highest office.

“This is a truly meaningful moment in the history for our country, including for so many women, people of color and immigrants,” U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, of Seattle, who was the first South Asian American woman elected to the House. Jayapal represents parts of southwest Snohomish County.

Wednesday marked the first inauguration that U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen of Everett didn’t attend in person since taking office two decades ago.

With heightened security and strict COVID-19 protocols — Larsen contracted coronavirus late last year — he “decided to watch it and experience it like most Americans,” Larsen said.

Now he’s looking forward to a productive four years with Biden at the helm.

“Joe Biden is going to bring back decency and empathy to the White House,” he said. “People will disagree with him on policies but never not like him.”

“It has been an incredibly hard four years,” said Patty Murray, the state’s senior senator, in a written statement to constituents. “Please keep making yourselves heard, because as today shows, it could not matter more.”

Caleb Heimlich, chairman of the state Republican Party, said Biden “struck the right tone” in his inaugural speech.

“As an American, I appreciate the values he was talking about,” he said. “The proof will be if he acts on it.”

Heimlich said Biden’s initial hours on the job seemed to run counter to his message.

“The country will be better served if President Biden listens to the concerns of Republicans and works in a bipartisan fashion to unify the country,” he said. Biden’s “executive orders today indicated he’s more interested in going his way than working through the legislative process.”

Doug Roulstone, chairman of the Snohomish County Republican Party, didn’t watch the day’s events.

Rather, he attended a state Senate hearing and testified in support of a bill to allow a partial reopening of restaurants for indoor dining. He said the ban on indoor dining, in place since mid-November, contributed to his family having to recently shut down its restaurant in Monroe.

Testifying, he said, “was more important to me than listening to the new president. This was personal, not political.”

Herald reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

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