Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanks so much, bu-bye

After making hundreds of calls in the days leading up to the election, and even after trying to get people to sign their ballots, I've noticed that I now get into a phone rhythm. It goes something like this "hi, this is Sarah, I'm calling because...If you have any questions, call...thanks so much, bu bye." Even when I got off the phone with my dad today I said "bu bye." Agh! I don't normally talk like that! Not that I sound like a robot, but I sound a little too chirpy, you know?

On another note, I was asked this week if I would be on a slate of candidates for the Thurston County Republicans. The guy that's running as chair I worked with on putting up Rossi signs (you know, the awesomely huge ones you saw all over Olympia if you live here). Anywho, he wanted me to run as committeewoman. Basically I would attend board meetings, meet with Republicans at the state level, and so forth. He recruited me because I'm young and he wants to reach out to younger people more. So anyway, I had to think about it, cause it's another time committment, and I don't rush into anything lightly. I talked with a co-worker who had sat on the same board, with a different job, and said it was a lot of work. He's not running again because there was a lot of internal politics I guess (among other reasons). Not what I want to deal with right now. I have enough drama in my life. Now, I can just hear you saying, "Sarah, you're in politics! I thought you loved politics!" But there's politics, and then there's politics. Like there's people passing laws and constituents giving feedback and elections and all that fun stuff. And then there's "you didn't do a good job representing our party- you should have done x,y,z- why didn't you start this earlier?- why are you never at our meetings?" You get the idea. So anyway, the position really appealed to me, cause I'd get connected with a lot of people, and I really want to do more outreach and getting youth involved. In the end (I know, I should have blogged on this earlier), I decided against it. I mean, it's a lot of my time- and with session I just can't committ to anything unless it's between April/May and December. That's just the way my life is. And I also didn't think the position would be the best for me to do what I want to do- getting youth involved in politics and doing on the ground outreach stuff. Plus I get to know many of our state legislators, and work with several of them on a daily basis! I've got the best connections you can have!

I have more news, but this is getting long and I need to get to my Christmas list and prepare for Black Friday shopping.

Monday, November 17, 2008

People recycling and more door knocking

So yesterday Brittany and I went up to Lake Stevens and spent half the day getting lost (despite Nadia, her "Russian" GPS nav and our two PDA cell phones). What we were TRYING to do was more ballot rehab (see previous entry) for Mike Hope. We knocked on 12 doors and got 7 not home, 2 wrong addresses, 1 signature, 1 guy that was supposedly sleeping even though we heard him talking from the living room that the auditor didn't like his signature, 1 that didn't vote in this race, 1 that already fixed their signature, and a partridge in a pear tree. Anyway, if Britt hadn't been there it would be have been a total waste of the day.
But as it was, we had a lot of fun getting lost in BEAUTIFUL Lake Stevens (do I hear retirement spot?), making fun of Nadia and sharing our life stories. It was pretty great. So after the election is over, she pretty much doesn't have a job (sorry, Britt, if you're reading this).
HROC, the campaign committee that organizes all the campaigns, hires a couple of people for election year. Then many of them go off to work in the Leg. as legislative assistants or other positions in the Leg., in lobbies (like Washington Farm Bureau, Assoc. of Washington Business, etc.), or other things like that. It's amazing to hear where everyone's come from...often they recycle around.
My boss, for example, worked as an LA before coming into the communications office. Our chief of staff was communications director before my boss. One of my other co-workers worked at two different lobbying organizations before coming to the Leg.
I'm not saying recycling around is a bad thing at all - because it's obvious they are very passionate about the political process and being involved in some capacity! It's good to know there's lots of places I can go from here, if and when I want to move on. For now I'm still in bliss with my job.
In fact, today my boss just told me about a couple new members that I may possibly have. Can't tell until it's official but I'm really excited cause they're both great people that will be so easy to work with.
On another note, one of my members is still losing in his re-election. He's down 63 votes as of Friday.
That's all for now -- more election (and member assignment) updates later.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Campaigning after the election?!

So we have about three elections in our state House that are too close to call. One of them is about 80 votes apart, one is a little over 100, and another is just above 500. When two candidates are less than 0.5% apart, there is an automatic recount.
When county auditors' offices are counting votes, there are some (a lot in some places) they set aside. Some the machine doesn't count because there's something wrong with the filled-in bubble. Some people forget to sign their ballots, or the signature in the voter system doesn't match how they signed their name. So the auditor's office sends these voters a letter letting them know their vote hasn't been counted yet (this isn't nationally- just within our great state due to legislation). When people still don't respond, the Republican and Democrats can request the list of people whose vote hasn't counted and why. (By the way- if you live in Thurston County, you can go to and look for your name to see if your ballot has been counted. Other counties may do this, but I haven't checked.)
So then, the parties go out and knock on doors and make calls to people who didn't have their vote counted. Of course, the parties are going to knock on doors or make calls to voters that typically vote for their party.
So today we went up to the 44th district, which includes Lake Stevens, Snohomish and parts of Everett. We had names, addresses and forms. The forms had a place for the voter to sign, stating that they hadn't voted more than once, that they are legal voters, etc. Then there's a place for us (witnesses) to sign.
So lesson for today: SIGN YOUR BALLOTS, PEOPLE!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Reflections on the election

With me just starting to get my feet wet in politics, mostly as an observer, and me being currently 24, I thought I would share my learning experiences with you all.
I also have this thing about young people getting more involved in their government- in one way or another. Hopefully this blog will show you why and how you can get involved, or at least, observe.
As those of you who know me know (whoo, that would never pass in a press release!), I work for the House of Representatives as a public information officer (sounds scary but basically I do communications and writing). I love my job. I personally think it's the best ever. Always changing, never boring, room for thinking and new ideas. Plus I work with really great people who have supported my learning and mistakes.
So first, I just wanted to reflect a little on the election. You've probably heard the word "historic" a couple times. And it is, in many ways. Voter turnout, the first black person elected to be president, the second female to run for vice-president, etc. And while I'm excited that we'll have a change in administration (the writers of the Constitution were soo smart- we can always use a little "change" around here!), I'm not too excited about Obama as a policymaker and driver. That's probably the first time you've heard that, huh? First, he believes in socialized health care. Some people think this means I must not care about poor children without doctors checkups or old people without prescriptions, but that's not it at all. I just think socialized medicine will lead to bigger problems and not really solve the problem we had in the first place.
One thing you have to know about politics is that we all want the same thing. We just have different ideas and ways to achive the same goal. For example, on health care, Democrats (in general) believe the government should step up and answer the needs of people without health care. Republicans (in general) support the market and businesses answering the needs of people without health care. The thing is, the problem isn't really that not enough people have health care. A very small population does not have health care- most of them are our age and choose not to have it because they're healthy and want to spend their money elsewhere. The problem is that for families and older people who have health care, they can't afford deductibles and what's left of the bill after insurance picks up part if any of the bill.
Back to Obama. I could be wrong (we'll see come January), but I haven't seen much substance or leadership from him. His plans and ideas that he discussed throughout the campaign seemed to change with the time, the place and the people. Of course, this is true to some extent with any politician (of course you're going to prioritize health care with seniors and education with parents). I don't think he's really ever stood up to his party. He's been the golden child of the Democratic party since he was a state senator- I remember watching a special on him many years ago and them saying that he had so much potential. So he has done what the party has told him to do and not do to get where he's at. Again, this is true for many politicians. But when you're campaigning on change, that's not exactly a great record to prove you can bring change.
Speaking of change, anything would be a change from George Bush. McCain was much more moderate and disagreed with Bush and the Republicans on a wide variety of topics. So even he would have been a change. Plus changing from the Republicans in control of the White House to the Democrats in control of the White House is going to be a change. Not just because of the president, but because of the ideals that each party stands for.
With a huge majority in Congress and power in the White House, we'll see what the Democratic party changes and accomplishes. It's going to be ugly for a couple years- neither presidential candidate would have had much of a honeymoon. Both would be criticized because people aren't going to understand. Whether we raise taxes or cut programs, someone will be hurt.
The real test will be to see if Obama can unite our country on the challenges we must face -- or if he simply panders to his party and doesn't listen to the people and do what's in their best interest (which are sometimes at odds- a true leader will do what's best and still have the people on their side because they have their trust and respect). So for now I'll just be watching and listening. I hope you will be too. It's our job to be the bosses of our leaders- to criticize their job performance, hard work, follow through, and how they work with others. It's also our job to fire them if they are out of line, if someone more qualified or promising comes along, etc.