While host Bob Drewel and panelists Cameron Calder (right) and Kathy Coffey listen, panelist Janice Green (center) speaks during a League of Women Voters of Snohomish County’s forum on civil discourse in October 2018 in the Wilderness Room of the Jackson Center at Everett Community College. (Dan Bates / Herald file photo)

While host Bob Drewel and panelists Cameron Calder (right) and Kathy Coffey listen, panelist Janice Green (center) speaks during a League of Women Voters of Snohomish County’s forum on civil discourse in October 2018 in the Wilderness Room of the Jackson Center at Everett Community College. (Dan Bates / Herald file photo)

Editorial: Celebrating our partners in ‘defense of democracy’

The Herald’s honor by the League of Women Voters is one we share with many in the community.

By The Herald Editorial Board

This weekend, as the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County marks its 102nd birthday, the organization that has been vital to the promotion and preservation of democratic representation for the past century, will honor The Daily Herald with its Democracy in Action award in recognition of The Herald’s “defense of democracy through superior journalism.”

That news is shared here not to elevate The Herald itself; although the editorial board is proud to hold up for admiration its reporters, photographers, editors and other staff. The news is shared, rather, to also recognize the many partners the newspaper and its online edition rely upon in our day-to-day journalistic work.

That starts with the League of Women Voters, itself, our younger sister in the county by about 19 years.

Founded in Snohomish County on Feb. 14, 1920 — the same year as ratification of the U.S. Constitution’s 19th Amendment, recognizing the rights of women to vote — the league has dutifully worked to protect the rights that amendment guaranteed, not just for women but for all Americans. Throughout its history the league has encouraged and promoted the right and duty to vote but has also expanded its work to urge the public’s participation in all levels of government, local, state and national, while adhering to its nonpartisan principals that neither support nor oppose specific candidates but instead promote education regarding candidates and issues.

The Herald Editorial Board for several years has partnered with the league on its election forums for local and state offices in the county, an effort that even during the pandemic continued with online presentations.

More recently, the League has taken on a range of issues, encouraging county residents to gather information and share their thoughts and concerns regarding the county’s comprehensive plan, evictions, homelessness, clean energy policy, Paine Field’s Airport Master Plan, redrawing of congressional and legislative district boundaries, state tax reform, the City of Everett’s switch from at-large to district representation for its city council and more, all issues crucial to the interests and well-being of county residents.

In the same vein, Sno-Isle Libraries — of course, an essential resource for information, books and other media throughout the county — also has partnered with The Herald in the launch last year of the library’s Stories in Democracy series, which has started with interviews conducted by Sno-Isle Executive Director Lois Langer Thompson and Herald Opinion Page Editor Jon Bauer — now available on the library system’s website — of the county’s three U.S. House members, Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen and Pramila Jayapal.

While we’re on the subject of public officials, their part in the defense of democracy also should be recognized. The default in public opinion — since the first public servants — has been more assumed cynicism than healthy skepticism, an attitude that too often ignores the honest efforts of those legislating, representing and administrating on behalf of the public. That appreciation is all-the-more deserving of those — employees and volunteers — who advise and assist those officials and governments: aides, poll workers, committee members and others.

Until the phrase was twisted toward the defense of rioters, “legitimate political discourse” has been the intention of The Daily Herald’s opinion pages, and the editorial board recognizes the contributions to democracy by those in our community who write the guest commentaries that appear on our Sunday pages, essays on Saturday’s Herald Forum page and nearly every day in letters to the editor. The board takes pride in the community’s eager participation in that truly legitimate discourse on our pages.

Finally, we’ll add to our earlier appreciation for The Daily Herald’s journalists. The Herald, with the retirements and departures of veteran — and treasured — reporters, editors and photographers in recent years, has been fortunate to welcome several young, knowledgeable and talented journalists who are continuing the newspaper’s 121-year tradition of reporting on events, issues and people in service to our readers and the community.

The story — possibly apocryphal, because the best quotes usually turn out not to be verbatim — is that when Benjamin Franklin, upon walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention of 1787, was asked, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin’s reply was equal parts gift and challenge: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Keeping that republic, the “defense of democracy,” is something that requires an effort that is labored on each day by all of us.

The Daily Herald is honored to receive this award from the League of Women Voters in recognition of a partnership that has thrived for more than a century. We welcome those who have participated in democracy’s defense to visit the newspaper’s offices and see the trophy for themselves.

Magazine on The Air

On the occasion of the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County’s 102nd birthday, listen to the league’s radio show, “Magazine on the Air,” and an interview by the league’s Karen Crowley with Herald reporters Rachel Riley and Katie Hayes and Opinion Page Editor Jon Bauer at 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 14 on KSER (90.7 FM) and KXIR (98.9 FM).

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