To the editor:
There has been recent interest in the endorsements made by the 23rd Legislative District Democrats in the races for the Bainbridge Island City Council. We are proud of our endorsements: Val Tollefson, Position 7, North Ward; Roger Townsend, Position 3, South Ward; and Wayne Roth, Position 5, Central Ward. These candidates participated in a rigorous process and the membership of the 23rd LD Democrats voted to endorse them.
I would like to briefly explain our endorsement process. The 23rd Legislative District Democrats do not solicit candidates to request endorsement. It is up to the candidates to approach the local Democratic Party to request an endorsement. This is the first step in a rigorous process. Candidates must complete an extensive questionnaire that asks them about their background, personal history, political activity, work experience and campaign plan. This questionnaire and description of our process is posted on our website for easy access. The executive board reviews the responses on this questionnaire and looks to other sources for additional information, including media reports, election participation and public statements made by the candidate. If the candidate has held public office we also look at votes made by the candidate while in office. All of these sources provide crucial information about the candidate and the viability of the campaign.
The candidates are invited to meet with the 13 member executive board for an interview. This board includes active democrats elected by the general membership of the 23rd LD Democrats and represents all areas of the district from Bainbridge Island, to Kingston, Hansville, Poulsbo, Silverdale and Bremerton. Based on the questionnaire, interview and review of other information gathered about the race and the candidate, the executive board makes a recommendation for action to the full membership.
The membership may vote to accept the recommendation of the board, amend the recommendation of the board or reject completely the board’s recommendation. When more than one candidate for an elected position seeks our endorsement and both are deemed by the executive board to be candidates we wish to support, we have the option of approving more than 1 candidate. This requires a simple majority vote of the members present. However, an endorsement can only be given to one candidate in a race and requires a 75 percent vote of members present at the meeting.
The city council candidates seeking our endorsement went through this process. In Positions 3 and 7, one candidate in each race requested endorsement and completed the process (Roger Townsend and Val Tollefson). In Position 5, two candidates requested endorsement, completed the questionnaire and were interviewed. Of these two candidates the executive board recommended endorsement of the candidate we felt had the most comprehensive view of the issues confronting the Bainbridge Island City Council (Wayne Roth). The membership voted to endorse these three candidates.
There was no rush to judgment in this endorsement process. Filing for office closed on May 18. Candidates requested and returned questionnaires. Interviews were conducted on July 8 and July 22.
On July 22, the executive board made their recommendations for consideration by the general membership of the 23rd LD Democrats on July 30.
This timeline allowed candidates seeking our endorsement six weeks to two months to request our endorsement. A candidate not making such a request was assumed to have made a decision to not seek our endorsement. The process is not secret. It was conducted openly and fairly.
We take this process seriously because we know that people in the district look upon an endorsement by the 23rd LD Democrats as a seal of approval for the candidate. We are not looking for all candidates to be in lock-step with us, only that they conduct their affairs in an honorable fashion and be with us on the issues that are truly vital to a well-run society and the Democratic Party — including thoughtful and inclusive leadership, honesty, equality, fairness, openness, and unobstructed participation in the democratic process by the voters.
The candidates we endorsed are running positive and thoughtful campaigns. They are committed public servants willing to give their time to the community in which they live. I appreciate the opportunity to remind voters of our endorsements in these important local races and clarify the process used to make our endorsement decisions.
MARY BRYANT, Chairwoman
23rd Legislative District Democrats