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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Celina Kareiva. Celina Kareiva is a freelance reporter and senior at the University of Washington, where she studies journalism and international studies. She’s written for all manner of media and is particularly interested in the human element of storytelling. Her work has been published by the Seattle Times, the Common Language Project, Seattle Weekly and Next Door Media. She currently writes for Real Change and the Times features desk.

May 25, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Drug smuggling, immigration and federal enforcement push border town to the brink

Richard Sinks, spokesman for the Blaine sector of Border Patrol, stands in front of the Peace Arch along the U.S.-Canada border. (Photo by Celina Kareiva / UW Election Eye)

Marijuana legalization and immigration are debates that impact every community in Washington. But for residents of a small city on the Canadian border, these issues hit especially close to home.

LYNDEN, Wash — The border between Washington state and Canada is demarcated by two parallel roads surrounded by long stretches of farmland.

As a boy, Gary Vis can remember darting through this area to a fishing hole where he and his friends used to spend summer afternoons.

“It was that easy to cross into Canada,” recalls the executive director of Lynden’s Chamber of Commerce.

Vis grew up among the raspberry fields and dairy farms of Lynden, WA. A small border city just south of Canada, Lynden was once known for having the most churches per square mile worldwide. Tulips fringe the sidewalks of the downtown square, and storefronts capitalize on the city’s Dutch heritage.

But behind this quaint facade is a city complicated by its proximity to the border.

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Comments | More in State | Topics: border, Border Patrol, Canada

May 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Portland man recruits minority votes in a state with a changing face

With the magic of Barack Obama’s 2008 election long gone, fears of anemic minority turnout in November are prompting some to take action.

Johnny Richey recruits voters at Portland's weekend market. (Photo by Derek Walker / UW Election Eye)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Swaddled by a booth of clothing and outdoor garden trinkets, Johnny Richey hands out voter packets and homemade signs endorsing Barack Obama. Richey points to a stack of registration forms, noting that there used to be thousands of applications when he and his partner first began recruiting voters.

Since he started pounding the pavement, Richey has wheedled that stack down to just four or five.

“A lot of people have given up hope on the American electoral process,” said Richey, who spent last weekend recruiting at Portland’s Saturday market.

Richey, who is black and lives in this town, said he was not an active voter himself until he found somebody he identified with in a position of leadership.

President Obama galvanized his political career.

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Comments | More in National | Topics: black vote, diversity, Hispanic vote

April 28, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Are all lobbyists supervillains?

Lobbyist Steve Gano outside the Washington State Senate Chamber (Photo courtesy of Steve Gano website)

The public finds them distasteful, and politicians avoid association with them, but lobbyists play an important and often misunderstood role in politics. 

Like most things in politics, the parameters and exact definition of lobbying are murky. The profession connotes images of bloated salaries, exploitive favors and misused tax dollars. My admittedly cartoonish understanding of lobbyists were that they were the shadowy figures lurking in the hallways of the Capitol building, pining for a moment of face time with their local rep.

There are countless examples of lobbying’s more nefarious side, but it’s also worth acknowledging the watchdog role of lobbying. As Steve Gano sees it, he’s an advocate on behalf of his clients. A lawyer of the political arena.

Gano was hitchhiking home from his summer job one weekend in college, when he happened upon his future in politics. A car pulled over, offering him a ride to campus, and Gano noticed that the back of the vehicle was full of yard signs.

 

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Comments | More in State | Topics: Campaign Finance, Legislators, Lobbyists

April 12, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Redistricting makes massive 9th LD even more rural, conservative

Rep. Joe Schmick (R) of the 9th LD poses on his family farm. When he's not in Olympia, he spends his days harvesting and managing a small business.

Rep. Joe Schmick (R) of the 9th LD poses on his family farm. When he's not in Olympia, he spends his days harvesting and managing a small business. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Joe Schmick)

It’s a long haul from Southeastern Washington to Olympia, but the same issues of education and changing demographics hit home out on the farm.

This time of year Rep. Joe Schmick (R) of the 9th LD, can’t help but miss the routine of daily life back home. A second-generation farmer, Schmick lives in Colfax in the southeastern corner of Washington state, where he grows garbanzo beans and a handful of other crops. While his neighbors and constituents ready their fields, Schmick uproots to Olympia, where he lives in a trailer in a campground just outside the Capitol.

“We’re either going 100 miles an hour, or doing zero,” he said of the pace of legislative life.

But in that regard, Schmick’s family history of farming has helped him in Olympia. It’s his familiarity with the working man that he says distinguishes him from other figures in the political arena.

“There are too few people [in Olympia] that sign the front side of a paycheck or have to balance not just a household budget but a business budget,” says his colleague Sen. Mark Schoesler (R), also of the 9th district.

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Comments | More in State | Topics: 9th legislative district, Demographics, education