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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 Lara Underhill. Lara Underhill is a graduate student in the Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) program at University of Washington. Lara currently works as a media relations professional and has previously worked as a producer at KIRO-TV in Seattle and WINK-TV in Fort Myers, Fla. She earned a journalism degree from University of South Carolina.

May 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM

An immigrant family’s journey to citizenship and the right to vote

As new American citizens, an Albanian family reflects on the journey that brought them to the United States and the rights they will never take for granted.

Merita and Naim Hyseni were sworn in as United States citizens on October 27, 2011. Pictured with their sons Oltion (left) and Julian (right). (Photo by Lara Underhill/UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — Naim and Merita Hyseni are from Albania and they will be voting this year for the first time as American citizens.

The Hysenis are also my parents-in-law.

Last week I went to their home to talk to them about how they got to the United States and what it means to them to exercise their right to vote in their new country.

But first…we eat.

I grew up in the Southeast and I thought that was a culture of food. But I learned early in my relationship with my husband Julian that Southern hospitality has nothing on Albanian food traditions. Just when you think you’ve finished the meal, another delicious course comes out of the kitchen.


Comments | More in Culture, Local | Topics: Albania, communism, democracy

May 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

“Why Isn’t Every Year the Year of the Woman?”

While Washington State is often highlighted for its female governor and two female senators, the focus has shifted to increase women representation in the statehouse.

Washington is often championed for its female leadership with two female senators and a female governor. Maria Cantwell, Christine Gregoire, and Patty Murray pictured here in October 2009. (Photo courtesy of Patty Murray's Facebook page)

SEATTLE — The 1992 election was dubbed the “Year of the Woman,” when Anita Hill’s treatment while testifying in the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, galvanized a movement. The all-male committee highlighted the dominance of men in the Senate, and women responded — that year, 24 new women were elected into the House of Representatives and five to the Senate, including Washington’s Patty Murray.

That uptick in female elected officials also made its way into the statehouse. In Washington, after the 1992 election, women represented 40% of the state legislature — more than any other state.

With that history in mind, and an outgoing female governor and two female senators, you’d think Washington State would be the poster child for states that represent women. But if you peek behind the curtain, you see that female representation in the state legislature has been slowly eroding since its apex in the early 1990s. Today, it stands at 32%.


Comments | More in State | Topics: Christine Gregoire, Gender, Maria Cantwell

May 8, 2012 at 8:47 PM

Amendment One: A different kind of North Carolina blue

Student volunteer for the Coalition to Protect NC Families poses in Raleigh, NC on April 18, 2012.

Student volunteer for the Coalition to Protect NC Families makes a statement with his shirt in Raleigh, NC on April 18, 2012. (Photo by Elizabeth Wiley/UW Election Eye)

As a transplant to Washington  from North Carolina, today’s primary election — and the overwhelming vote in favor of Amendment One — was a disappointment.

SEATTLE — I was born and raised in North Carolina — the same as my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. We can trace both sides of my family ancestry back to North Carolina in the 18th century.

I have now lived in Seattle for 11 years and during all this time, I have always been proud to say I was from North Carolina.

But not today.

Today, North Carolina voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that says the following:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.

I am deeply disappointed in my home state and what a new constitutional amendment means for my family and friends who live in North Carolina, as well as what it means for my chosen home of Washington State.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Election 2012, North Carolina, North Carolina Amendment One

April 20, 2012 at 6:30 AM

A new terminal to export coal exposes divided opinions in Bellingham

The Gateway Pacific Terminal would bring more coal trains through Western Washington. Bellingham residents weigh in on the risks and rewards.

Train tracks run along the Puget Sound at Marine Park in Bellingham captured on April 14, 2012. (Photo by Elizabeth Wiley / UW Election Eye)

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — On a warm, sunny Saturday at the Bellingham Farmers Market, as I was winding through the outdoor aisles of organic produce, hand-crafted items, and singing co-eds, I thought it might be difficult to find someone to talk to me about coal.

Well, not just about coal. I wanted to know how residents of Bellingham feel about the Gateway Pacific Terminal. It’s the proposed terminal just north of Bellingham at Cherry Point that would provide a launching pad for coal traveling by train from Wyoming and Montana to China, a country where coal is in high demand.

The project is a long way from reality. If approved, the first phase of construction would potentially begin in the second half of 2015. That is only after a lengthy environmental review process that could take as long as three years to complete, according to Bob Watters, director of business development for SSA Marine, the Seattle based company that is proposing to build the terminal.


Comments | More in State | Topics: Bellingham, coal train, Pacific Gateway Terminal