Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Washington State Democrats and Friends Have a Good Time

River Curtis-Stanley, Vice Chair of the 26th Legislative District (Kitsap County)

The Corvettes rocked out

Thurston County Progressive Network friends

U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee

Maria and Vito Chiechi

Olympia City Councilmember Jeff Kingsbury, Jim Lazar, and Olympia City Councilmember Karen Messmer serve up the crab

Governor Chris Gregoire and Jeff Smith, 41st Legislative District Chair share a laugh

Photos by Janine Gates www.janinegatesphotography.com
February 17, 2009 - Washington State Democrats held their annual precinct committee officer training and crab feed last night at Marcus Pavilion at St. Martin's University in Lacey. A good time was had by all. While it lacked the nervous tension and Obama-drama of last year's event, it was good to see old friends.

I saw Jeff Smith, former King County Democratic Central Committee guru, who remembered me as the teenage whippersnapper who was put in charge of organizing volunteers for then-Congressman Mike Lowry's annual "No Right Turn" shrimp feed and other projects.

Throughout the evening, I looked for, and eventually found River Curtis-Stanley of Port Orchard, whom I met last year at the event. She was looking radiant, despite nightly dialysis. She continues her search for a kidney donor. When I met her last year, she had been in dialysis for only a month and was not looking well. Still, she had made the tremendous effort to travel the hour and ten minute drive to Olympia for the day-long precinct committee officer training. Her smile and positive outlook was memorable.

Previously a software test engineer, Curtis-Stanley was inspired by Howard Dean to get involved in politics. She went to her first precinct caucus in 2003. She and her husband got elected. As a precinct committee officer, she organizes her neighbors, getting them together two or three times a year whether it's an election year or not and talk about the issues they have in the neighborhood. "I keep them aware that the Democratic party is the best party to resolve their issues." She then brings up their issues with party leaders.

Receiving precinct committee officer training has helped her become an effective activist in her neighborhood. On a 12 acre parcel near her home, a development of 150 houses was planned. The parcel was going to be clearcut, removing shade cover from a nearby stream and would have cut down a tree that contained an eagle's nest. Through her efforts, Curtis-Stanley succeeded in getting a moratorium on the project.

She had been a John Edwards supporter because of his health care plan and didn't like Hillary Clinton's plan to fund health care through a percentage of one's income, so she became an enthusiastic Obama supporter.

She said this is her fifth year coming to the crab feed, and looks forward to coming back next year. I'll be looking for her.