Bill Mize Forum starts the season

By John ServaisOn Jul 24, 2008

The informal kickoff to the campaign season is the Bill Mize forum at the Rome Grange each summer. As always, it was great political theater and was broadcast live on KGMI. Before you think it was good of them to carry it, consider they required the Grange to pay $650. The lack of local radio ownership is apparent. Several Grange members ponied up the amount.

Attendance tonight was very short with only half the chairs occupied. In discussions afterwords over cookies and lemonade, the lack of publicity was the assumed reason. KGMI apparently did little and the Grange didn’t print posters this year. Too bad because John Wilson ran a tight agenda and the whole evening came off very well. Below are some impressions that are not meant to get too deep into issues. Keep in mind that my perspective is as a liberal but I also like to think it is tempered with a practical bent.

The best speaker of the evening - judging from audience reactions - was Christian Pierre Joubert who is running for Governor. His issues were health and prosperity but it was how he spoke to us that got us with him in just two minutes. Then he handled a couple snarky questions from a couple of well known political junkies who like to bait candidates. He absolutely dissed them. “Are you liberal or conservative?” “Well, I am both at different occasions. I have a left brain and a right brain and I like to use them both.” Watch for this guy. You will enjoy listening to him and he says things that make sense.

Chuck Snyder is running for reelection as Superior Court Judge. I sure hope he has a solid win. He founded the Teen Court which has served us so well with our teenagers. He has also worked very hard on the Drug Court to bring better solutions than prison to drug problems. He really has dedicated himself to making our community safer and our justice system better. But heads up - the election for judge is during the August 19 Primary. This makes no sense, but is what we have to work with. Liberal or conservative, we want to keep Synder as judge.

Glen Johnson, an organic farmer of 20 years from Skagit County, is running against Rick Larsen. Glen is a Democrat and opposes Larsen’s knee jerk support for the military industrial combine. A vote for Glen in the Primary is the best way to send a telegram to Larsen that we don’t like the war nor his support for most of Bush’s programs over the past years. Of course Larsen is a shoo in for re-election. He did not attend the forum.

The 40th District Senate race is the hot one this year. Harriet Spanel is retiring and 4 of the 6 candidates spoke tonight. Hue Beattie was his usual folksy, down to earth self. He is a long time Democratic Party stalwart and his views are solid liberal. Ken Henderson is the Whatcom County favorite with a lot of folks here wanting to keep Harriet’s seat here and not let it move to San Juan County. Ken rattled off all the many non-paid commissions, councils and committees he has served on over decades of involvement. He also served on the County Council. All this makes Ken well qualified and, as a retired eye doctor, he has the time for the job. He was asked a leading question by a supporter for Republican candidate Van Luven (he passed out his flyers). He asked Ken if he was a “Socialist”. Gasp. Why reactionary right wingers think getting us to state we are liberal is a coup for them just shows how clueless they are. Ken turned the question nicely.

Kevin Ranker, a San Juan County commissioner, spoke of his many years working on coastal management and issues for our four county area. Governor Gregoire has appointed him to several commissions where he has been deeply involved with issues important to all of us. He has a very practical approach to solutions. He is the guy I am voting for.

The lone Republican, Steve Van Luven, is a bit of a carpet bagger. He started staying in his family summer cottage on Samish Island a few years ago and only registered to vote in the 40th District in March - of 2008. Four months ago. He tried to sell himself as the only candidate “living in the middle of the district” and that this area has been “part of my life since birth”. In truth, he has been in the Bellevue area for decades. He showed good thinking and ideas but a bit more honesty would be appreciated.

Mark Flanders is challenging Doug Ericksen for the 42nd - most of Whatcom County - legislative seat. Mark is young, liberal, very intelligent and a good speaker. But he will have a stiff time winning against Ericksen who is well known for his ability to simply adjust his speaking to take his opponents’ positions. In answering questions, Doug kept citing legislative bills he - Doug himself - has introduced or sponsored that would solve the issues in the questions. But not once was any bill mentioned that passed. With Doug it is all about him. If you are conservative then Doug is your guy - but you knew that. State Senator Dale Brandland, who is not running, is a the kind of honorable conservative that I do appreciate.

Kelli Linville has an interesting challenger in Jere Hahn for the other 42nd legislative seat. Jere is a loud talker. That is not criticism. It is a warning. Strap your seat belt when he gets up to speak. Amazing. And he has a quick mind - one so fast that he has trouble finishing sentences. And he loves the word “atrocious”. Kelli has a 15 year track record of solid work in Olympia. Jere will present an interesting option for voters in November as there are only the two of them running. This contest will be fun to follow.

So the campaign season is now open. I cannot find any local website with a quick reference to candidate websites. I’ve put that together here in past years but have been too busy this year. And the Whatcom Independent posted one but they are out of business. I keep looking for another site I can link to. If you know of one, please let me know. The Herald should do one as this is core to their mission of local political coverage. But then, their reporter left the forum early before it was over. Anyway, feel free to rip my observations in the comments below.

10 am Thur update: Damon Gray has posted a good view of the forum on his Eye on Whatcom site. The link is just below.

1 pm Thur update KGMI has posted the podcasts of the forum. Use their link in the right column under “Local Media”. Unlike a certain local political blogger, I do not hijack their audio but rather link you to the KGMI site so you can then listen to their audio.

About John Servais

Writers • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John is super cool, and knows more about the news and internet-news business than just about any other guy around. He runs this website, and keeps an eye on everything. Read some of his articles, and let him know what you think.

Comments by Readers

Hue Beattie

Jul 24, 2008

I am a fiscal conservative but socially liberal; Remember the barracks? I like to sit down with people and talk about a problem and attempt to solve it. That’s what the senate is all about. Remember isms cause schisms.


Damon Gray

Jul 24, 2008

John said: ‘He asked Ken if he was a “Socialist”. Gasp. Why reactionary right wingers think getting us to state we are liberal is a coup for them just shows how clueless they are.’

Oh, now John…  You’re savvy enough to know there is a significant difference between liberal and socialist, yet you paint this as though they are synonymous.  So, the claim of “cluelessness” doesn’t hold up at all.  It was a valid question based on Ken’s statement in his literature (which the questioner pointed out) that health care is a “right” and not a “privilege,” in which he made his call for universal health care.


John Servais

Jul 24, 2008

Touche, Damon.  My only weak defense is reference to Hue’s comment.


Mark Flanders

Jul 27, 2008


Great site. Normally I don’t mind being called young, but I should point out that I’m older than Doug Ericksen. (I turn 50 in February) I’m also older than Jasper McSlarrow and Jesse Soloman. Also, I appreciate being called intelligent, but must you call me a liberal? I mean, my politics in my old age are pretty darn moderate. I’m proposing no new taxes, I want to fully fund education incrementally over time and get rid of the WASL to save money.

I favor B&O;tax breaks for green businesses, I have ideas about creating budgetary carryover incentives to reduce waste and I’m cautious about the Governors plan to provide universal healthcare. (I’d like to see a national plan) Do I favor the right to organize, a woman’s right to choose and gay rights and protecting the environment? Of course.. I am a Democrat.

So far as conservatives go I’d like to say that I have a few bona-fide Republicans voting for me because they know me. My opponent has his supporters, but most people in Whatcom County are independent minded and some of them think Doug has been in there long enough.

Mark Flanders