The initial results in a variety of districts around the state – largely considered Republican leaning, but showing Republican weakness last night should be motivating some serious soul searching and galvanizing Republican efforts around the state. Here is a review of a few of these races (please note direct links to election results will change as more late mail-in votes are counted):
In the 15th Legislative District (Yakima County), this district will remain in Republican control, but an intramural fight within the Republican Party has resulted in poor results for the Republican caucus and for everyone who values freedom. In a five way primary runoff for the house seat, longtime Republican incumbent David Taylor appears to have missed surviving the primary results with a disappointing election night return of 20.42%. This result is partly due to a longtime well-known grudge against Representative Taylor by nearby Republican Senator Curtis King (LD-14) who has repeatedly recruited candidates to
run against Taylor. Baring an unusual shift in ballot returns over the next few days, it looks like King succeeded with former Democrat and recently converted Republican Jeremie Dufault who will beat Democrat candidate AJ Cooper in the fall. Representative Taylor was one of the most knowledgeable legislators of either party in Olympia when it came to land use, property rights, planning, and how the hodgepodge of land use laws functioned in Washington State. Losing him from the legislature eliminates a desperately needed knowledgeable, freedom-oriented voice in the legislature. Senator King didn’t like Taylor’s criticism of King’s various gas tax proposals and King’s endless campaign to increase the tax burden on Washington State citizens. This is yet again another example of how Republican intramural fighting will help the Democratic Party agenda of higher taxes next year.
Yakima Health District officials are exploring the possibility of using State Fair Park as a medical care facility during a disaster.
The district is seeking proposals for a feasibility study of installing generators at the Yakima Valley SunDome, Pioneer Hall and the Deccio and Modern Living buildings, which would allow the facilities to be used as places to care for nonemergency patients if needed.
“The circumstances surrounding Rattlesnake Ridge show why planning is necessary,” said Health District Executive Director Andre Fresco, referring to the slow-moving landslide on the ridge near Union Gap.
Fresco said that if feasible, the fairgrounds would be used as a place to take care of the nonurgent health needs of people displaced in a major disaster, such as flooding or an earthquake. The Health District is working with the Yakima County Commission, the county’s emergency management officials, the city of Yakima and the state Department of Health’s Disaster Preparedness Division on the proposal, he said.
The fair park is ideally located to serve as a place for nonemergency medical care in Central Washington in the event of a disaster, Fresco said.
Having generators is a prerequisite to being able to use the site as a backup medical facility, as planners would need to be able to provide heat and power in the event of a blackout, Fresco said.
The study is preliminary and will look at whether it is possible to outfit the buildings — some of which date back to before World War II — for emergency medical use, and how many generators would be needed to power the complex in an emergency.
It would not be the first time the fairgrounds was pressed into service in a time of emergency. During World War II, the fairgrounds housed a training school for military pilots and a factory for building Army trucks for use in the Pacific Theater.
Greg Stewart, State Fair Park’s president and general manager, said fairgrounds in other parts of the country have been used as emergency shelters for people and livestock during wildfires and other disasters and that he welcomes the study.
“The fairground has been the salvation of many communities,” Stewart said.
There are parts of Yakima County — think White Pass and Chinook Pass — where cellphone service is spotty or non-existent. Ham radios have no such problems. They can operate through a system of relays with other operators or even bounce signals off the ionosphere to communicate with stations thousands of miles away.
In a major disaster, the radios would likely be one of the few ways to communicate with the outside world, as they can run on batteries or gas-powered generators.
The state’s Military Department, which oversees disaster response on the state level, notes that many agencies — including the state’s Emergency Operations Center — successfully used ARES teams for communications during last year’s Cascadia Rising earthquake and tsunami drill. State emergency officials recommended that local agencies should establish a “habitual relationship” with ARES teams — if they don’t have one already — to ensure coordination in an emergency.
In Yakima County, the team works with the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management to prepare for emergencies, and has a radio room at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Union Gap.
Jeff Emmons, the county’s emergency management director, said the ARES group gives the county an alternate means of communicating during disasters.
Yakima’s two hospitals have amateur radio stations that can be used for emergency communication with authorities in disasters, Whitney said. And today’s radios are capable of linking computers together so they can share data in emergency situations if internet connections are not available.