I love seeing political strategy carried out when it’s well done!
State Senator Phil Fortunato called a meeting in Buckley last week to rally support to stop the proposed building of another SEA-TAC-sized airport in what has been labelled by state-hired consultants as “King County SE”. The prospective site is just a mile east of the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn.
Former State Senator Pam Roach was there. It soon became clear that she had helped him plan the event. Between 200-250 people attended, all but two of whom opposed the airport on the Plateau.
Fortunato is running for reelection and is using the anger and opposition about the proposed airport as a way to win reelection. It is a brilliant move. It is also classic Pam Roach strategy: Find a hot-button issue and then use the energy collected to win reelection. She did it over and over again to win her eight terms in the State Legislature.
Fortunato’s explanation and his strategy for stopping construction in King County was pitch-perfect. He clearly pointed out that places like Richland and Moses Lake would love to have such an airport. He cited the barrier of the mountains to the east to landings and takeoffs. He pointed out the noise and the air pollution and the potential of hundreds of planes flying over our homes every day.
He called on Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro to come up and speak. Molinaro explained that the City Council was united in opposition. Molinaro had also found support against the airport from the City of Auburn, Black Diamond, and other affected cities. Most importantly, he said, the Muckleshoot Tribe is opposed to the airport. That was a relief to me because I was afraid that the Tribe might have had some influence in getting the site put on the list. While Fortunato agreed with Molinaro, he also tempered Molinaro’s remarks by saying that the Muckleshoot leadership was more restrained in their opposition.
Fortunato encouraged the audience to make comments and ask questions. Some who live near the proposed site were concerned about groundwater contamination to their wells. Others thought a lawsuit should be brought immediately since the legislation that passed and that Fortunato voted for specifically stated that King County would not be considered as a site. Why King County SE was on the list, Fortunato didn’t know.
Roach kept raising her hand, recommending that King County SE should be removed from the list immediately, and that opposition to the airport should be strong, early, and “with guns blazing”. Fortunato stated in his brochure, “Send an email to : CACC@wsdot.wa.gov and copy me.” Virtual public meetings are scheduled for August 23 at 12:00 P.M. and August 31st at 5:30 P.M. Roach recommended that a book of emails be created to document objections which could be shown to fellow state legislators and decision makers. When testifying in public hearings before the CACC (Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission), each person should have a different reason against the airport, rather than repeating the same objections over and over again—a more powerful approach.
The brochure listed key CACC required reporting dates as Oct. 15, 2022 when the committee will provide a list of the top two locations and June 15, 2023 when a single preferred location will be recommended. At the bottom of his brochure was Fortunato’s website: www.votefortunato.org
As I stated at the beginning, the meeting was well-organized, short—about 45-minutes—and clear. People were obviously anxious to act. Fortunato and Roach expertly used the emotion and the anger to galvanize action. I recommend you follow their advice to preserve the Enumclaw Plateau. Testify, write letters, make phone calls. Get involved!
Now, let me change course. I don’t support Fortunato for reelection. He’s too extreme, too far to the right politically, and too much like Trump.
I support Independent Chris Vance, who is Fortunato’s moderate opponent, a Republican who got sick of the extremism of the Republican Party. I also support Republicans Drew Stokesbarry and Eric Robertson in the House reelection bids for the 31st District.
Democrats have held gubernatorial power since 1985. We haven’t had a Republican governor since John Spellman ended his term that year. Part of the reason is because of the likes of Roach and Fortunato. Washington is a deep blue state. Extremism will not win the governorship back for the Republicans, but moderation will. Republicans have to broaden their base and quit following the extreme right wing of their party. This is long-term thinking, which Republicans do not seem to understand. Let’s hope you do.