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WA celebrates 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act ?>

WA celebrates 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act

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We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the landmark federal Voting Rights Act, with Secretary Wyman and the state Elections Division, the state’s 39 county election offices and the National Association of Secretaries of State leading the praise for equal access for voters.

“The work of assuring equal access to the ballot never ends. We in Washington are absolutely committed to eliminating barriers and encouraging voter participation of every eligible person in the state.

“We encourage our children and grandchildren to learn the stories of democracy and about the great duty and privilege we have of voting and having all our voices heard. It is our government and voters have central place.”

Washington’s kids’ art contest for illustrating the statewide Voters’ Pamphlet and its commemoration of the VRA landmark was highlights in a national blog, Electionline, on Thursday.  Our blog covered the school assembly where Emily Cain learned from Secretary Wyman that her entry had been selected.

State Elections Director Lori Augino said the 50th anniversary provides a powerful theme for this year’s print Voters’ Pamplet, which will go out to over three million households in mid-October, and to our military and overseas voters in mid-September.

“We are thrilled to take part in the state and national celebration and we encourage all potential voters to make sure they get registered in time for the 2015 General Election and for the big 2016 presidential election year,” she said. “We want to hear every voice.”

The National Association of Secretaries of State also celebrated the anniversary. Secretary Wyman in on the group’s executive board.  In 2006, former Washington Secretary Sam Reed presented President Johnson’s family the NASS Freedom Award posthumously honoring LBJ for championing and signing the VRA.

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Washington Secretary Sam Reed presented President Johnson’s family the NASS Freedom Award posthumously honoring LBJ for championing and signing the VRA
State Library’s past, future celebrated ?>

State Library’s past, future celebrated

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Central Library Services Manager Steve Willis holds up the new booklet about the Washington Territorial Library during his talk at Tuesday’s celebration event.

Political turf battles. Unsavory characters. Nepotism.

You normally wouldn’t associate these terms with a library. But they help describe the turbulent, ever-changing  era of the Washington Territorial Library, which was established in 1853 in Olympia and remains Washington’s oldest cultural institution.

The Washington State Library hosted a public celebration of the Library’s 160th anniversary at its Tumwater headquarters Tuesday afternoon, drawing nearly 100 people.

State Librarian Rand Simmons emceed the event, which was attended by Secretary of State Kim Wyman, former Secretary of State Sam Reed, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, Thurston County Auditor Gary Alexander and former State Librarian Jan Walsh, among others.

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Special Collections Librarian Sean Lanksbury discusses the Territorial Library collection with guests. (Photo courtesy of Laura Mott)

Sean Lanksbury, the Special Collections Librarian, gave a presentation covering Territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens’ initial purchase of books, maps, globes and other items, and how that shipment reached Olympia after a voyage around the southern tip of South America. The Territorial Library’s initial collection reached Olympia on Oct. 23, 1853, a month before Stevens did via overland route. Lanksbury also delved into the Territorial Library’s many homes in Olympia, explaining that it wasn’t always located in the Territorial Legislative Building despite the desire of legislators back then to house it there.

Central Library Services Manager Steve Willis covered the history of the Territorial Librarians, including the political challenges they faced from the Territorial Legislature, as well as family connections that helped a few of them score the top job. Willis also shared that an effort by territorial legislators to move the capital to Vancouver in 1861 was thwarted thanks in part to Territorial Librarian J.C. Head’s refusal to budge from Olympia. His action, Willis said, saved Olympia’s status as Washington’s capital.

While Lanksbury and Willis focused on the State Library’s early days, Secretary Wyman spoke about its future, noting the launch of Library 21, an initiative that will demonstrate to the Legislature and the state’s residents that “the State Library is a 21st century library empowering 21st century Washingtonians.”

As an upcoming example, Wyman cited November’s scheduled launch of a public-private partnership with Microsoft to implement a Washington State Library Microsoft IT Academy. About 400 public, community and technical college, and tribal libraries will provide access to 220 technology courses free of charge thanks to funding provided by the Legislature and to deep discounts by Microsoft.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Territorial Library, State Library staff created a booklet that looks back at the 36-year history of the Territorial Library. It includes many photos as well as profiles on all 21 Territorial Librarians. A limited number of copies of the handout are available for free at the State Library’s second-floor reference desk, located at 6880 Capitol Blvd. SE in Tumwater.

Evelyn Arnold joins Secretary Wyman’s team ?>

Evelyn Arnold joins Secretary Wyman’s team

Evelyn Arnold, Kim & Lori Augino

Evelyn Arnold shares a story as Secretary Wyman (middle) and Elections Director Lori Augino (right) listen.

Evelyn Arnold, former Chelan County Auditor and King County elections official, has joined the Office of Secretary of State as financial services manager.

Monday was her first day on the job and it was “old home week” at a Capitol reception in her honor.  She and Secretary of State Kim Wyman are old friends, dating back to 1991, when Arnold was a new county auditor and Wyman was beginning her career with the Thurston County Auditor’s Office. Sam Reed, both as Thurston Auditor and Secretary, was a mentor to both women. Other old acquaintances welcoming Arnold to Olympia: Assistant Secretary Ken Raske, Deputy Secretary Mark Neary, state Elections Director Lori Augino, state elections official Sheryl Moss, Corporations Director Pam Floyd & Assistant Director Dan Speigle, and Policy Director Katie Blinn.  State Librarian Rand Simmons, Deputy Archivist Terry Badger, Special Programs Director Stephanie Horn and others joined the gathering.  Each had a story or a word of welcome for Arnold.

Wyman said she was delighted that Arnold is joining the team, bringing her CPA skills, broad knowledge in elections and other fields, an inspiring and collaborating leadership style, and warm relationships with the Auditors and elections officials in both parties.

Wyman said Arnold has been a mentor to many. She added:

“Evelyn was always someone I looked up to and admired. It’s amazing how things work out, and that she’s now here working with our team. She is a leader and a mentor.  And I love that Evelyn is from Eastern Washington and that we keep the farmers and some`geographic diversity’ in mind!”

Arnold said her career has had some unexpected twists, including her first bid for office when the incumbent suddenly moved to another county.  Her husband Randy, a railroad engineer, transferred to the Seattle area, and she eventually joined him and took a top position in 2009 with Sherril Huff, the elected director of elections for King County.  The Arnolds have moved to Steilacoom, but still farm 50 acres of pears in Dryden. She brought a boxful for her new colleagues.

“Working for the Secretary of State will be an adventure, and I’m an adventuress,” she said.

 

Wyman elected to national exec board ?>

Wyman elected to national exec board

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Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, rounding out her first six months in office, was honored to be elected to the executive board of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Wyman, second from right in photo, was unanimously elected vice president for the western region of the United States by her peers at the NASS summer conference in Anchorage over the weekend.  Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, to the left of Wyman in the photo, is the president-elect.

Wyman said she was pleased by the effectiveness and vigor of the organization and happy to be part of the board. She added:

“NASS is a powerful bipartisan voice in Washington, D.C., and across the country for strong policies at the state and federal levels for elections and a variety of other services provided by the secretaries of state. NASS also offers a way for the states to share best-practices as we work at continuous reform and improvement.”

Wyman is a long-time election administrator, including 12 years as Thurston County auditor, and continues to advise several national reform panels.  Wyman’s predecessor, Sam Reed, served a term as NASS president.

Secretaries of State Club ?>

Secretaries of State Club

Four Secretaries of State photo

They don’t have a secret handshake (as far as we know), their roll call is rather short, and they seldom meet.  So when the four people who serve or once served as Washington’s Secretary of State do gather, it’s cause for celebration, or at least a blog post.

The new officeholder, Kim Wyman, met with her three predecessors for lunch Tuesday in Olympia. No word on how much they talked shop or discussed whether Gonzaga will reach the Final Four. From left to right: Bruce Chapman, who was appointed as Secretary of State 1975 and was elected to a full term in 1976; Wyman; Sam Reed, who served from 2001 until retiring this January; and Ralph Munro, who served from 1981 until 2001.

Kim Wyman sworn in as 15th WA Secretary of State ?>

Kim Wyman sworn in as 15th WA Secretary of State

Kim with Ralph and Sam

Kim Wyman has been inaugurated as Washington’s 15th Secretary of State, following a line of Republicans stretching back a half-century.

Wyman is the only woman and only Republican elected to statewide executive office in the last election, only the second woman Secretary of State in Washington history, and the first woman Republican Secretary in the Evergreen State.

Wyman took the oath of office shortly after noon on Wednesday, drawing cheers at a joint session of the House and Senate when she was called up to the rostrum for her swearing-in.  She was emotional and shed some tears as she took the time-honored oath to uphold the constitution and laws of the United States and Washington and to perform her new duties to the best of her ability.

She was joined by her husband, John, and their son and daughter, her parents and sister.  Later, staffers and two former Secretaries of State, Sam Reed and Ralph Munro, welcomed her into her new digs on the second floor of the Capitol, just down the hall from the office of the new governor, Jay Inslee.

Wyman held a ceremonial swearing-in and program later for several hundred family members and friends in the State Reception Room, and planned to greet citizens at the Inaugural Ball later in the evening.  She plans to outline her legislative agenda to the Capitol Press Corps on Friday.

Before winning her new post, Wyman was Thurston County Auditor for 12 years, succeeding Reed in that office, too.

The mid-day joint session also included Inslee’s 36-minute Inaugural Address called “The World Will Not Wait,” a reference to global competitiveness.  He vowed “a multi-year effort to bring disruptive change to Olympia, starting with the very core of how we do business.”  He said he wants to work with lawmakers on gun legislation, better funding of K-12, (more…)

WA lawmakers off to dramatic start ?>

WA lawmakers off to dramatic start

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Washington’s 63rd Legislature is off to a dramatic start, with a coalition of minority Republicans banding with two dissident Democrats to take over control of the state Senate.

The debate was fairly low-key. Despite having an elected majority in the upper chamber, the Democrats were left with little option but to accept that 23 Republicans had lined up support of fiscally conservative Democratic Sens. Rodney  Tom and Tim Sheldon to form the 25-member coalition to run the 49-member Senate.

Democratic Leader Ed Murray and other Democrats complained that the two sides could have negotiated a better deal, such as co-majorities on the committees and chairmanships.  Democrats were voted down when they put it to a vote.

The coalition had offered Ds some chairmanships or co-chairmanships, reserving most of the most significant panels for the coalition.  In general principle, the Ds rejected a “coalition” Senate. But several Democrats, including Tracey Eide, Steve Hobbs and Brian Hatfield, said they would accept the offer of sharing power.

In the end, the coalition called the unusual takeover a cause for celebration and prevailed in all test votes, including electing their nominees for leadership and administrative posts.

The House, with Democrats in firm control, had far less drama, going through normal mass swearing-in and speeches.

Outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire, Attorney General Rob McKenna, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Auditor Brian Sonntag, who leave office on Wednesday, will give farewell remarks to a joint legislative session on Tuesday.

Jay Inslee, who defeated McKenna in the fall election, will be sworn in at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Rotunda, and the other eight statewide elected officials will be sworn in at mid-day Wednesday at a joint session.  New Secretary of State Kim Wyman will have a ceremonial swearing in at the State Reception Room at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The Inaugural Ball is Wednesday evening.

How Secretary Reed became an honorary UW alum ?>

How Secretary Reed became an honorary UW alum

Secretary Reed began his presentation at the University of Washington this week as a loyal WSU Cougar walking into “enemy territory.”

He ended his presentation as a UW graduate. Well, not exactly.

The “graduate” status was bestowed on Reed after he spoke at an event for the University of Washington Combined Fund Drive, the university’s workplace giving program that encourages philanthropy through payroll contribution and campus-wide fundraising events.

The UWCFD has been a key factor in the overall success of the Washington State Combined Fund Drive, bringing in more than $2 million for local, national and global charities last year alone.

The event was held to honor the volunteers and to kick off the 2012 campaign for the UW. Reed was one of the guest speakers and shared his pride in the university’s employees.

“I’m a Cougar for life,” he said. “But today I’m a Husky, too.”

Seconds later, that sentiment was made official when the campaign chair of the UWCFD honored Secretary Reed with the unofficial status of a University of Washington graduate. He was given U-Dub purple regalia.

Sam, of course, is noted for his great love of his alma mater, where he got his undergrad and graduate degrees on the Pullman campus. The ringtone on his cell phone is the Cougar fight song. He regularly visits WSU mothership and the branch campuses and in recent years has partnered with WSU’s Foley Institute for Public Policy & Public Service to present lectures, a book release, and symposiums on civility and on the Centennial of voter approval of the initiative and referendum process.   He also has participated in research by WSU professors  Francis Benjamin and Nick Lovrich on legislative civility, staff and internships.

College civics tour, Day 6: Spokane Community College ?>

College civics tour, Day 6: Spokane Community College

 

As part of Day 6 of his 2012 College Civics Tour, Secretary Reed visited Spokane Community College, speaking to students about the importance of active civic engagement and answering their questions. Secretary Reed also visited Spokane Falls Community College and WSU Pullman earlier today, and he will visit Northwest Indian College and Western Washington University in Bellingham later this evening.