Elections 2015 – Some surprises Some not.

Off Year elections are always hard. Low voter turnout is a problem. Here’s some of the wins.

Jefferson County

  • The hotly contested Port Commissioner – Diana Talley defeated by Steve Tucker. Diana did a great job as a newcomer to the political scene but some of her supporters did not do their homework in attacking the Port.
  • Jefferson County Hospital Commissioner – Kees Kolf is now another voice for change on the Commission. A good thing.
  • Hospital Commissioner Dist. 2 – Marie Dressler trounced Paul Stafford. The Status Quo wins here.
  • Port Townsend City Council – The young and the restless win. It will be interesting to see how they do as they learn the craft of politics in a small town. Just remember, you will always make enemies when you take a position, so do it with kindness, but take it anyway. And keep an open mind, so many of us were so convinced of our positions when young, only to find out later how much we didn’t know. Some of us still don’t!

Clallam County

  • Mark Ozias trounces Jim McEntire for County Commissioner!  While this won’t change the balance of power at the Clallam County Commissioners offices, it will add a voice of reason to extreme views of the other commissioners, who are doing their best to roll back all environmental efforts of the County.

Seattle Port Commissioner

  • Fred Felleman – An outsider wins a seat at the Port, which matters because of Shell Oil wanting to use the Port as a pit stop to Alaska North Slope Oil. Fred has been laboring for years on oil spill prevention in Puget Sound. He likely will be a strong voice for environmental concerns.

Initiative 1366 – 2/3rds for Tax Hike

  • Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to hobble the State to collect new taxes is currently winning, and likely headed for the Supreme Court, where we can only hope it gets thrown out. This  initiative that played on the voter sentiment of no new taxes  and would likely  lead to more toll roads, higher ferry fees, less taxes for infrastructure and other desperate state needs, was accepted by voters in all counties but Jefferson, Thurston and King. The opponents of Eyman’s initiatives should hire better consultants to help them get their message out next time.

The Elections and the Changing Environmental Landscape

The outcome of the national mid-term elections yesterday is going to blow an ill-wind towards those working to protect our environmental resources. While I did not get any sense of environmental issues being at the heart of the sea change to Republican wins, like Canada, the outcome is likely to be a weakening across the board to anything that might help us stave off the problems that are mounting on land, sea and air.

The failure of the national Democratic party and it’s head, President Obama, to capitalize on their positive work over the last six years, to me, appears to be more marketing and campaign consulting issue than actual anger by the voters at negative things they have done. The New York Times had statistics two weeks ago that showed that Obamacare was helping the very people voting against the Democrats the most, the poor and lower middle class across the South and Southwest. The influence of big money by CItizens’ United is now showing as well. Many elections were close. So it was only a landslide when you view the overall picture. Certainly no blame can be assigned to the environmental political orgs, who blanketed my inbox with pleas for money on an almost daily basis. Friends told me they had stopped emails from MoveOn for example because of daily ‘begging’ mail. It shows there is only so far you can push email pleas before the voters tune you out.

With the Congress firmly in their control, look for the Republicans to use the budget as it’s whip. Defunding environmentally oriented agencies, like EPA, will be high on their list. Judges will be put forward who support business over the environment, as seen by the makeup of the Federal Supreme Court. Legislatively, they will be working to reverse any laws standing in the way of oil and gas development, as if there were any left standing after 6 years of Bush and his Congress from 2001 to 2007. Also look for repeal of the law banning the export of oil and gas to foreign countries. It’s been bad enough that we have plundered our land by fracking for our own needs, but now it will be for the benefit of world markets rather than our own. If you aren’t active, now is the time to do more than just read blogs. Don’t count on Obama to help us, he has shown himself to be very capable of appeasing foes, rather than using FDR like tactics to demonize them to the public, the way the Republicans have very effectively done of him.

Is there any positive light at the end of this dark tunnel we are entering, it’s that local elections, both here and elsewhere in our state, have supported positive actions. 58% of eligible voters voted in Jefferson County, while a dismal 38% voted in Clallam. Our local legislators were returned to office, both nationally and state wide. In Jefferson County we elected a new County Commissioner who is very willing to support environmental progress.  Judges at the State Supreme Court level who have supported McCleary to boost education funding (like science funding) are back.  And voters continue to allow the the legislators to do their job, rather than show their distaste with the use of  advisory votes.

Also, recently, data has surfaced that shows that solar energy costs for panels and the like have now plummeted below the cost of oil, gas, coal and other electrical generation costs, for the first time. This means that across the US, (and world) the decision to install solar will not need to be funded by government action (or hampered by inaction). While we don’t benefit greatly from solar here in the Pacific NW (due to low hydro electricity costs and lack of high intensity sun), those locations that do, all over the US, will see the economic decision to choose local solar made much easier.

So don’t despair, political change has never been easy. But don’t take this election as a gift to sit in front of computer and tune out the bad news that’s sure to show up in the next two years. Get out and do something positive locally to show you care. See you in the trenches.

This week…VOTE

Have you sent in your ballot? Time to get it done! And help a neighbor remember too!

The primaries are on. For Jefferson County, there is a bit of confusion as the Republicans have vanished and “independents” are now the label that they are taking.  But let’s look at some of the races.

US. House of Representatives.  Derek Kilmer 

Derek has done an admirable job of navigating the House of Representatives, which are currently controlled by a radically anti-environmental group of Republicans who insist on trying to overturn key legislation, or open more locales to mining, fracking and the like.

The League of Conservation Voters has a good overview of his voting record here.


Derek has teamed up with Republicans to create a bi-partisan Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, to continue to fight for funding to promote Sound cleanup.

Vote backgrounds


While I applaud the idea of the Green Party coming to the field with Doug Milholland, I would not recommend voting out a successful and proven Congressman with an unproven candidate, no matter what his promises might be. If the current position was filled by an anti-environmental legislator, then I would be seriously considering Mr. Milholland’s candidacy. I attempted to get an interview with Mr. Milholland but apparently we were unable to connect in the last two weeks.


State of Washington House of Representatives.  Steve Tharinger and Kevin Van De Wege

Both these candidates have proven themselves to support environmental law and policy. I have met them over the years, and witnessed them working. I fully support their return to office over any of the possible other candidates.

Jefferson County Commissioner District 3 – Kathleen Kler. 

Ms. Kler is the hand picked replacement for a very supportive environmentally oriented Commissioner, John Austin. While I have only interviewed two of the other candidates, their lack of depth and experience in environmental issues, and their focus on jobs over all other issues, leaves me coming back to the fact that Ms. Kler has worked closely on a number of issues throughout the County as documented on her  web page:


She is endorsed by the Jefferson County Democrats, which also means that she has proven herself adept at working with large diverse groups. With the County Critical Areas Ordinance up for revision during the next term, it’s important to have  a clear environmental supporter on the Commissioners, along with the current two.

Public Utility District #2       Ken Collins

I think it’s time to swap out Mr. McMillan  after the disaster of the switch over to the PUD. Low income people have had their power cut during winter, billing was poorly executed, and support of environmentally friendly power generation is put on the back burner. A lack of sensitivity to the customer permeates the current PUD, and  Mr. Collins brings experience dealing with other power and energy companies, and also a commitment to help serve low income population, which comprises a large percentage of the county.


North Olympic Sierra Club weighs in on PUD race

Received from the S.C.

The North Olympic Group of the Sierra Club is following closely the race for  Jefferson County PUD Commissioner, District 2. Recently, the PUD has assumed the
role of an electric utility but has fallen far short of what citizens had hoped for when  Jefferson County voted to establish its own pubic electric utility and to end its
longstanding relationship with Puget Sound Energy (PSE).For this reason we think it’s time for new PUD leadership. We encourage Sierra Club
members to support candidates in the primary who understand the importance of  environmental and conservation issues and the important role the PUD can play in
developing a long-range strategy that emphasizes affordable and environmentally  sustainable energy for Jefferson County. After the Sierra Club North Olympic
Peninsula Political Committee Chairs interviewed all three candidates, we felt both  challengers–Tony DeLeo and Kenneth Collins–are worthy of your support in the

Since taking on the responsibility of a power utility, the PUD has sent hundreds of disconnect notices to lower-income citizens because it failed to continue the
financial assistance programs PSE had in place for helping people pay their winter heating bills. Additionally, the PUD is faced with the prospect of turning back
hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for conservation by the Bonneville Power Administration because of a failure to publicize and aggressively market
these programs. Finally, despite the fact that Jefferson County has one of the highest solar adoption rates in the state, the PUD has failed to make solar one of its
priorities. This is particularly important in light of the fact that, depending on the year, from 10-20% of the PUDs electricity comes from nuclear and coal sources that
need to be phased out. It’s time for a change.

Tony DeLeo’s blogspot provides more voter information. You can view his profile and where he stands on local issues by clicking on this link:
http://deleo4pud.blogspot.com/. Kenneth Collins has provided more voter information at his website. You can view
his profile and where he stands on local issues by clicking on this link:

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