It’s been just weeks since the 2012 elections, and I imagine many of you welcome the reprieve from campaign advertising. You may have been disappointed regarding the ballot box results. However, I encourage you to accept the voice of the people and to become more engaged in the process. Washington elected to retain single-party rule for at least another term. It remains to be seen, though, if our new elected leaders will change course from a path that brought us declining quality of public education and fiscal uncertainty. In representative government, we must articulate the citizens’ priorities to our leaders. That task knows no rest, both in and out of election season.
Leadership in Olympia must steer another course and place governing ahead of games. Rather than managing Washington’s citizens, the new governor and legislature should strive to serve the people. Private enterprise must have the confidence to invest and hire employees, and it’s time for elected leaders to take this seriously. That must be immediately followed by fully-funding our public education system with the already-existing dollars in the budget. While speaking of education, I am pleased that public education leaders will be charged with bringing more flexibility to our system with the implementation of charter schools.
Finally, the legislature must honor the voters’ wishes in requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. This necessitates bi-partisan support for future budgets and requires government to live within its means. If Olympia tries an end-run, we must hold them accountable.
In the aftermath of an election like 2012, it would be easy for cynicism to set in. It has been said that cynicism is full of naïve disappointments that cause people to disengage from government and politics. But we can ill afford the citizenry’s decoupling from its government.
There are still millions of people in Washington state who believe as you do. So now is not the time to succumb to doubt. Rather, it is time to remain both involved and informed so that you can speak with a reasoned voice.
I am committed to work shoulder to shoulder with those who choose this route. I hope you are, too.