County Dem convention tackles controversy

It was standing room only at the Kitsap Democratic convention Saturday with so many people jamming Olympic High School’s gymnasium that the visitors had to be seated with the delegates and on their honor not to vote.

“It was a nightmare and a dream,” said county Democratic chair Sharon Peterson.

Actually, only 630 delegates were seated out of a possible 1,700 elected at the March precinct caucuses, but that was a far cry from the 188 Republicans produced the previous Saturday.

Also unlike the Republicans, who had a one page vanilla platform that avoided any kind of controversy, the D’s tackled six pages of hot stuff ranging from gay marriages to the pit-to-pier gravel mining operation for Hood Canal, but never got around to discussing most of it.

All kinds of Democratic candidates showed up, high in spirits over the crowds they found at other county Democratic conventions around the state that day, they said. Early in the day, all it took for wild applause was to promise to send George Bush back to Crawford, Texas.

When a speaker on behalf of Dennis Kucinich said, “We need to get our troops out of Iraq,” however, more people sat on their hands than applauded.

The Kucinich supporters urged election of delegates representing their man so his ideas could be taken to the national convention in Boston and put in that platform, although they would then vote for John Kerry, they said.

It took 15 percent of the delegates in each legislative district to gain a state convention delegate of which Kitsap gets 64. In the end, after negotiations among the presidential candidates’ groups, Kerry had 36 delegates, Howard Dean had 15 and Kucinich 13. Further negotiations decide the make-up of the national delegation between the 1st and 6th congressional districts.

The crowd may have been the dream, but the platform was the nightmare. They sometimes voted without knowing exactly what they were voting on because the full plank hadn’t been read as amended, but they kept going over it until they got it right.

They quickly walked into a quagmire over gay marriages. The platform affirmed that “the intimate, permanent consensual union between two adults is a basic civil right,” supported state-sanctioned civil unions “and leave the term marriage to the church.” After much wrangling, they approved that the civil unions would have “all the legal rights attributed to marriage.”

They argued for another half-hour before changing a call for moratorium on capital punishment pending reforms to “abolition” of same. They supported return of Old Man House State Park to the Suquamish Indian tribe and opposed any expansion of the Patriot Act in any form.

They didn’t stop for lunch, which most brought. I hadn’t, but my thanks to Alexis who shared his baloney and mustard sandwiches with me. By 2:30 p.m. and Page 3 of the platform, people were beginning to leave so they hastily recessed to elect their state delegates while they still had a quorum. Confession: I left, knowing from past experience that would take over an hour and they’d never finish the platform anyway but put it back in the platform committee.

When they came back after 4 p.m., they took up the platform again but only had 210 delegates, which was a quorum. When two or three people said they were leaving, Mrs. Peterson tells me, she called a quick vote to put the platform back in the platform committee with instructions to report on it at the next central committee meeting.

Left as is in the platform then were opposition to the expansion of open pit mining into Hood Canal, charter schools which use public money, the No Child Left Behind Act, abolition of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for homosexuals in the military, and support for prohibition of paid signature gatherers for initiatives and a simple majority for school levies and bond proposals and much, much, much more.


Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA 98340.

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