Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Judge Them by Their Actions

Johnny Walker
@KingstonJW on Twitter

Candidate forums are grueling, and I’m not talking about how hard it is on the candidates. The whole concept of sitting on cheap chairs in a hot room with a hundred people hoping to hear something new, interesting and credible from an overly large group of time-limited politicians is nonsensical; perhaps even non sequitur. Both the voters and the candidates deserve better. But so it was in the dated and dirty Silverdale Community Center this past Monday evening, as candidates from the 23rd, 26th, 35th Washington Legislative Districts and 3rd Kitsap County Commissioner District assembled for job interviews. Even the uncontested Sheriff, Steve Boyer, was on hand for questions and answers off to the side. It was a busy evening.

To be fair, the familiar, friendly, faces I saw working diligently on behalf of our hosts, the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, did a swell job putting on a spread and helping attendees feel welcome. I’ll even credit their President for the best joke of the night. In opening remarks Tim Matthes quipped that “the problem with political jokes is that sometimes they get elected.” It was a subtle and perhaps appropriate introduction but the actual forum consisted almost entirely of predictable talking points with little time for drilling in.

One of my most interesting moments from the evening bubbled up from incumbent Democrat, Representative Kathy Haigh of the 35th District, who was the only Democrat who made it a point to reach out in a positive way to the Tea Party. During remarks from the stage, she said she had a lot in common with Tea Partiers. Considering her top Party brass and allies have spent considerable effort demonizing the movement, I caught up with her later on to clarify. Haigh asked that people should, “Judge me by my actions and not by what people say about the party.” She says she agrees with Tea Partiers on more things than not, and wants to concentrate on the things “we agree on.” That seems both collaborative and fair… and so we talked about her favorite topic - education.

Kathy Haigh clearly has a passion for education and if she could get votes based on enthusiasm alone, she would absolutely have mine. With more than two decades involved in the educational system and 12 years on the legislature, Haigh clearly has the kind of corporate knowledge that could decipher Washington’s educational beast, but there is a problem here. She and her majority party have had a lot of time to do it but haven’t. Representative Haig has some very good ideas, like reinventing the concept that kids can be held back for non-performance, 6 month entry cycles, and team teaching approaches that sadly remain conceptual to most schools today. She agrees that we may need to “blow up the system” to fix it and figure out how to get rid of bad teachers (but hasn’t a clear plan how). Representative Haigh seems quite articulate in the education business and voters should question her carefully before the final vote, but if independents are to judge her by her actions on education, it may be that she has a lot of ideas a little too late. And on other matters, Haigh voted to suspend I-960 and to increase taxes instead of reducing the size of government. This will be a hard campaign for Representative Haigh if she wants independents to judge her by her actions.

In another interesting campaign, one that could almost be tagged the “Beauty and the Beast" campaign for all of its tension, I don’t believe incumbent Christine Rolfes’ (D) experience, cool and measured presence quite outclassed her more cutting competitor, James Olsen (R) with his pointed, direct but constitutional approach to prioritizing the business of government. Frankly, any politician that seems to place a greater value on global citizenship than effective local citizenship is not deserving of my vote so Representative Rolfes loses traction here for a return seat. Yes, we may be born citizens but need to be taught how to be good citizens. We cannot hope to have good global citizens in our community without first teaching them fundamentally to become good local citizens. In consideration of the current unbalanced State budget, Rolfes also fails in her leadership and ability to make tough decisions. She should not need reminding that the State Democrats are in clear majority and have architected the current crisis through increased and unsustainable spending. Passing the buck to the governor to get them out of it instead of getting back in session to do her job is a leadership fail.

Know your candidates and vote. November is coming.

Photo center left; Rep Haigh takes a moment in Silverdale, WA for interview


Anonymous said...

Johnny You need to dig a little deeper when it comes to supporting Haigh over her challenger who is a Constitutional Conservative and Republican he has attended the TEA Parties because he belives we need to get control back in the hands of the citizens. Kathy haigh made some nasty remarks about Dan Griffey and his support of the Tea Party and like usual during an election she is shying away from them. Here is a link to a Kitsap Sun Article you may have missed.http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2010/apr/23/did-haigh-link-challenger-to-racism-in-speech/

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that after working on education for 24 years, (12 on a school boards and 12 in the legislature), now, she know how to fix it? she has either been completely ineffective, or it took her longer than two entire cycles of k through 12 to figure out what to do. Also I would be interested in what exactly does she agree with TEA Party members, since she allegedly claimed all TEA Party members were racist, at the Mason County Democratic 2010 convention..

Anonymous said...

Theoretically, one could be a Democrat and be a member of the Tea Party movement or a Tea Party supporter. But with the tsunami of anti-incumbancy coming, any Democrat who professes a new-found love for lower taxes, smaller government, and Earl Grey is probably just posing, particularly if they are one of the Democrats who have rung up a 3 to 4 billion dollar deficit in Washington State. That number could grow to 6 to 9 billion by the end of the year.

I'm sure Kathy Haigh is a swell person. But what we need right now are wise and frugal people in the state legislature. We don't need deathbed converts to the Tea Party movement. We need people who really believe that government has gotten too big, not simply that is has been caught getting too big.

Frankly, I'm more than a little skeptical that Kathy Haigh has much in common with the Tea Party. I'm a member of that party, by the way. And I've had opportunities to talk with her opponent, Dan Griffey. And Dan's drink of choice is Tea. It's not a matter of political expediency from what I can determine. I think he's sincere that we need to cut government and bring back some semblance of fiscal responsibility where "responsibility" does not mean that the citizens are endlessly responsible for paying for every little thing that the legislators in Olympia can dream up.

If we are to judge Kathy Haigh by her actions, as she says, we should remember those actions have been to grow government, increase taxes, and subvert the will of the people by voting to overturn I-960 whose purpose was to make it more difficult to raise taxes. I don't know what she's been drinking in her tea, but it's not the kind we have at our Tea Parties.

Let's give someone else a try in Olympia. The Democrats such as Haigh have had their chance.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the author's views on candidate forums, but I do differ with him on Kathy Haigh. She 'seems'like a genuinely nice person, but she is a Democrat & they stand for the unions, for the multiple social remedies that cost taxpayers BIG BUCKS, but never RESOLVES the issues & for outright big spending at all costs to the taxpayers, and for public education.
She says to judge her by her actions, not her party's. Well, then I would say don't judge Republicans by all the things so-called Independents & Libertarians hated about George Bush's actions. Fair enough?
What I want to know is why the author puts in a bad word for one Democrat candidate & to balance things out he puts in a good word for another Democrat, Kathy Haigh, as if Trailer Trash Seaquist wasn't there.
Kathy says she is passionate about certain issues. SO WHAT?!
I became so passionate while Trailer Trash Seaquist was spewing one lie after another, insulting the normal attendees, that I got up & walked out, while those slimy little creepy crawly vipers slithered profusely out of his fork-tongued mouth. NOW THAT'S PASSION KATHY!...Doing something courageous like REFUSING to let a slimeball violate my senses!
Passion is cheap after all, and who isn't passionate?...
...except perhaps Mr. Johnny Walker, who looks like he could use some red meat (for energy) & SUNSHINE (for the liver).
The Cranky Bubbe

kingstonJW said...

I want to thank you all for a good, robust response to this blog entry. To the two anonymous comments, No, I did not know that Haigh had called Tea Partiers racist in the past and will remember this should I have a future opportunity to speak with her. This is why comments are so important for web logs. News and commentary become a conversation and not just a single perspective.

Please note; however, that I did not endorse Representative Haigh at all in post. She is not in my district and I merely presented the conversation I had with her in a fair way. I did think that some of her ideas on education were interesting but also introduced the idea that it was likely too little too late and that she didn't have a plan. Being polite to Haigh should not be equated to an endorsement. The Dan Griffey campaign can attest that I tried to get ahold of Dan for a balanced response on education, but he was unavailable.

To Cranky Bubbe, I admire your spirit and I think I remember you walking past me on your way out grumbling about Mr. Seaquist... yes, you indeed were passionate. I agree with you Mr. Seaquists presentation was crude. Seaquist's bad behavior and other issues simply did not hit the priority of what I wanted to publish in the little space and time I have. The good words about Haigh were more about ideas in education, which are probably valid regardless of how well she has been able to execute them.

Thanks you all for your comments... I hope you will introduce yourselves if you ever see my pale sunshine deprived face in person.

My best for liberty...