Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

By Janine Unsoeld

Above: U.S. Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) cuddles 14 month old Rosie after she successfully ripped off his eyeglasses following today’s Memorial Day service in the Capitol Rotunda in Olympia. At right is Rosie’s mother, Tia Myers, Olympia, an Army veteran and newcomer to the South Sound area. Welcome Tia and Rosie!

Above: Remembering the Fallen at the Washington State Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Capitol Campus. 

“We Don’t Win What We Don’t Fight For” Say Three City Council Candidates

Above: Olympia City Council Candidates Marco Rosaire Rossi, Ray Guerra, Rafael Ruiz and their campaign manager Rob Richards, far right, this morning in front of Olympia City Hall.
By Janine Unsoeld

Three candidates for Olympia City Council held a rally this morning outside Olympia City Hall to highlight their campaigns and progressive issues.
Although the candidates are united, and emphasize that they are not running against particular incumbents or individuals, Marco Rosaire Rossi, Raymond Guerra, and Rafael Ruiz are indeed running separate, active campaigns.
“We don’t win for what we don’t fight for,” is their slogan. While all are articulate and educated, each has their own individual strengths, stories and perspectives.
Above: Rossi listens to a potential supporter this morning. Port Commissioner candidate E.J. Zita, left, also attended this morning's rally.
Marco Rosaire Rossi, 33, is in the race for Mayor, along with incumbent Cheryl Selby and candidate Prophet Atlantis. A medical assistant at Planned Parenthood, Rossi graduated in 2004 from The Evergreen State College, has earned two master’s degrees, and has lived in Olympia off and on for 15 years.  
“I think Olympia is a good city, but good isn’t good enough – we want to make Olympia a great city!” Rossi said. He listed his priorities: create a day shelter, create a tenant Bill of Rights for both residents and small businesses, encourage up not out urban density and investment in urban planning, make the city budget process more inclusive and create new forms of government and participation.
“We want you to be the city! We’re building a social movement – it’s about the issues! We’re going to make you a priority!” he exclaimed.
Ray Guerra, 38, is running for Position 2, along with candidates Judy Bardin and Jessica Bateman. Guerra said he grew up in Florida in severe poverty. His single mother regularly worked two service level jobs, and died at the age of 38 of high blood pressure brought on by stress.
A bartender at Fish Brewing Company, Guerra has lived in Olympia for 15 years, and is a homeowner in the Carlyon neighborhood area. His goal if elected is to raise the standard of living for Olympians, noting that service sector jobs have replaced manufacturing jobs.
“We want to promote local businesses that support their workers….Our city council can do more than reactively respond to local issues...we can be innovative, creative, and exceptional in our policy and our budgeting. Many of our citizens live in the harsh realities imposed by systemic poverty. We can and should address the challenges impacting the poor! People like to fear monger about a $15 minimum wage, but I like to think about the possibilities of what this new wage will achieve! If the three of us are elected, and we have one more progressive vote on the council, we can get a lot of shit done!” exclaimed Guerra.

Above: Olympia City Council Candidate Rafael Ruiz
Rafael Ruiz, 32, is running for Position 3, along with incumbent Nathaniel Jones. He has lived in Olympia for 10 years and works at the Olympia Food Coop. He is a former volunteer for the Emma Goldman Youth and Homeless Outreach Project (EGYHOP) that provides emergency supplies, services, and resources to the homeless and low-income populations living on the streets. Through that experience, he said he learned how to listen.
A single parent of two children, Ruiz grew up in Southern California, and told the crowd personal stories of how he did not feel safe. For Ruiz, this also means feeling the lack of food security. He now has a refrigerator full of food, but he has difficult childhood memories of opening the refrigerator and having it reveal only tortillas, milk, eggs, and beans.
He stressed that if elected, he will have the opportunity to fight for paid sick leave for low wage workers, policies that guarantee shelter, fight for people who rent, police accountability, and create disciplinary policies that reform, such as transformative justice models.
“Safety is really my priority,” said Ruiz.
“Trabajo duro para que mis niños tengan la comida más sana, y Mexicana.Trabajo duro para pagar la renta y las cuentas. En cada elección nunca veo candidata/os trabajadores. Yo soy tu candidato en solidaridad con todos trabajadores. Voy luchar para subir el salario mínimo por hora hasta $15. Voy luchar para mejorar los derechos en la ley para todos arrendataria/os en Olympia. Voy luchar para mejorar la vida para los pobres y sin casa propia. Voy luchar para establecer y facilitar la democracia directa. Vota Rafael Ruiz para un futuro brillante en Olympia. Rafa trabaja para ustedes!” dicho Ruiz.
“I work hard so that my kids can eat healthy and pass down my Mexican culture. I work hard to pay my bills and rent. In every election I hardly ever see working class candidates. I am your working class candidate in solidarity with all workers. I will fight for a $15 minimum wage. I will fight for tenants’ rights. I will fight against poverty and homelessness in Olympia. I will fight to establish direct and participatory democracy in Olympia. Vote Rafael Ruiz for a brighter future in Olympia. Rafa will work for you!” says Ruiz.
Rob Richards Finds A New Voice
The candidates’ campaign manager is Rob Richards, who spearheaded the Downtown Ambassador Program through the Capital Recovery Center for the past three years.
Richards says he was asked by many to run for city council, and he thought about it, but had to admit to himself that three solid years at the Ambassador Program, and three years serving on the city Planning Commission, working on the Shoreline Master Plan and the Comprehensive Plan burnt him out on process issues.
Richards was abruptly let go recently from his position with the program but is proud of his accomplishments and is only looking forward. Richards said he has created his own closure.
“I feel passionate about our community….It took baby steps to make the welcome center what it is now and it looks fantastic. Partnerships were formed with the business community, the Olympia Downtown Association, the Parking and Business Improvement Area, and the community. Although we’re not quite ready for a drop-in center, we’ve now created a model that works. This is just the beginning for a larger three to five year vision,” he said.
When asked by Rossi and Guerra to run their campaigns, he jumped at the opportunity.
“If creating a platform of progressive issues will engage and inspire more candidates who don’t have access to the process, then that’s great. We want to create a real voter’s guide, scorecards, and develop campaign services and do voter outreach and education,” said Richards.
Richards is looking for supporters for sign waving, house parties, and donations for yard signs. Richards and the candidates can be reached at For the candidates, Richards can be reached at (360) 292-0565.
An opportunity to meet many candidates for city council and the Port of Olympia is scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, 7:00 p.m., at Garfield Elementary School. The event is co-sponsored by the Northwest Neighborhood Association and the Southwest Neighborhood Association. According to Northwest Neighborhood Association president Rip Hemingway, all but one have agreed to participate.
For information about local individual campaigns, go to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission at

Above: Liz Atkins Pattenson and Madeline Weltchek support a $15 minimum wage in Olympia.