Lawmakers are less responsive to the public | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

We now have a “blue wall” of Democratic controlled state governments up and down the West Coast. Unfortunately, this is making legislators less responsive to the public, especially here in Washington state.

Last Friday, for example, the state Legislature, including all three representatives from the 23rd District, voted overwhelming to retroactively exempt themselves from the state records act. Those records would have shown us who they were meeting and corresponding with.

That vote came in response to a Jan. 19 decision by a Thurston County Superior Court that legislators, just like every other official in the state, are subject to the Public Records Act. That lawsuit was brought by a coalition of media groups that included the Seattle Times, the Spokane Spokesman Review, the Tacoma Tribune, KING TV and KIRO 7.

Right after that January decision, I wrote our local legislators — Senator Christine Rolfes and Representatives Drew Hansen and Sherry Appleton — asking whether they would support the legislature’s appeal of this ruling. Only Rolfes wrote back (in the affirmative), even after follow-up phone calls to Hansen and Appleton’s offices. This wasn’t the first time I’d found Appleton unresponsive to constituents. About 10 years ago I moderated a candidates’ debate at the American Legion Hall and Appleton arrived 15 minutes late. She didn’t apologize to the audience for doing so, and asked for five minutes of time to introduce herself, even though the debate was already long underway.

Our electoral system serves to entrench these incumbents. First, the primary is held in mid August when few people are paying attention to politics and many are away on vacation. Second, our two-party general elections guaranty a spot on the ballot for candidates from both major parties, regardless of how viable they are. For many Democratic voters in this overwhelmingly Democratic district, there is often no real choice in the general election.

Two changes could improve this system. The first is moving the primary to before school lets out, when most voters are still here. The second is a “Top Two” primary like California’s, in which the top candidates advance regardless of party. That would create more viable choices for voters from both parties, and perhaps lead to more openness and consensus in Olympia.

ROD STEVENS

Bainbridge Island

More in Letters to the Editor

Where does city get its information | Letter to the editor

To the editor: I received a citizen survey that Douglas Schulze, city… Continue reading

Support the Highway 305 bridge | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Imagine Winslow with less traffic and healthier residents of… Continue reading

Bainbridge needs policy on body cams now | Letter to the editor

To the editor: As an experienced business person I know, intuitively, that… Continue reading

Let the city council do its job | Letter to the editor

To the editor: On June 12, during its regular business meeting, the… Continue reading

Grand vision for a public place | Letter to the editor

To the editor: My childhood home, going into foreclosure, is a road… Continue reading

Body cameras should be mandatory for police | Letter to the editor

To the editor: You don’t really believe the baloney your reporter was… Continue reading

Councilman is no longer recognizable | Letter to the editor

To the editor: When Councilman Ron Peltier ran for his seat on… Continue reading

Trillium Trail Run supports BI trails | Letter to the editor

To the editor Thank you from the Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation to… Continue reading

Educate our kids to speak up | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Recently, the Bainbridge Island School District issued a letter… Continue reading

Concerned Americans need to speak out | Letter to the editor

To the editor: I am writing because I am increasingly concerned by… Continue reading

Build new station in original location | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Again we have a threatening situation at our High… Continue reading

The choice looks easy to me | Letter to the editor

To the editor: So Trump told the NRA, in the UK, “They… Continue reading