Expertise or Ideology?

Dear Group,

The race for Treasurer of Spokane  County is a perfect example of a race between expertise and ideology. David Green is a Certified Public Accountant and decades of experience in finance. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind as to David Green’s qualifications and ability to discharge the duties of the office of Spokane County Treasurer. Most striking for me are his two of his endorsements: Vicky Dalton and David and Mary Kulisch. 

Vicky Dalton has served for twenty years as Spokane County Auditor, a county office with diverse duties and oversight, including elections, motor vehicle licensing, and public records. She has served with such evenness and fairness she has rarely drawn an election challenger. She “Prefers Democratic Party” but serves in an entirely non-partisan manner. She rarely endorses candidates. (Take note that in this election cycle she has also endorsed Mary Kuney for Spokane County Commissioner.)

I know David and Mary Kulisch. They are the parents of a friend of my son through the LCHS cross country team. They are upright, principled people. In their endorsement they state, “We are Republicans, we are Seniors, we are Mormons, and we support the most qualified candidate for County Treasurer, David Green.” 

Contrast bipartisan endorsements and clear expertise with the background of the other candidate, Michael Baumgartner. He crept into the office of State Senator for Legislative District 6 on the Tea Party wave of 2010. He hadn’t even warmed his seat at the State House, when, in 2012 the middle of his first four year State Senate term he challenged Maria Cantwell for her U.S. Senate seat. (He was roundly beaten, roughly 60-40.) Perhaps he was seeing the writing on the wall when he quietly mentioned he was not going to run for State Senate again. Instead he would run for Spokane County Treasurer. You wouldn’t know that from his fundraising emails of the time (which I’ve been receiving). He asks for money but avoids mentioning for what he is now running. I have yet to see a yard sign that identifies him as a candidate for treasurer rather than Senator. He is running a campaign that depends on name recognition and his presumption of the ignorance of the voters. He expects to roll in the tide.

His qualifications for Treasurer are modest at best. He says he will “fight for the same conservative principles of fiscal responsibility, jobs growth and quality education” as he did as Senator. That is not the job for which he is applying. The treasurer does not legislate or fight, the treasurer administers. 

There is a persistent rumor, bolstered by the recycling of his yard signs and the issues page of his website, that Mr. Baumgartner views Treasurer as a short term job on his way to a run for mayor of Spokane or yet another public office. In short he has all the makings and history of political climber, not someone signing up to serve in a predominantly administrative office.

Finally, like all far right wing ideologues covered by (including McMorris Rodgers, by the way) Baumgartner has professed such purity of ideology that his “interview” isn’t even posted. He is “Endorsed.” He passes all the litmus tests of far right ideology. He is highly aligned with WBWV. Passing all their tests as a right wing ideologue may be sufficient proof that he would choose ideology over analysis, and likely abdicate his responsibility to think.

The Spokane County Treasurer’s contest is a contest between a man, David Green, with expertise and qualifications for the job at hand, a man offering that expertise to serve the citizens of the Spokane community. His opponent is a climbing politician looking for an interim position. He hopes to sail in based on name recognition and a dogmatic commitment to far right ideology. Don’t let him succeed. Vote for expertise. Vote for David Green.

Keep to the high ground,


*Ideologue: an adherent of an ideology, especially one who is uncompromising and dogmatic: a conservative ideologue.

P.S. Rob Chase, the current Spokane County Treasurer and also an WBWV ideologue, is leaving open the Treasurer position and attempting to wrestle Mary Kuney, a more moderate Republican, from her Spokane County Commissioner’s position. Kuney was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee (when Al French and Josh Kerns, the other two commissioners couldn’t agree on whom to appoint to a vacant seat). Meanwhile, Jeff Holy is trying to slide into the District 6 WA Senate on Baumgartner’s coattails from his current District 6 Rep position. It seems like a sort of ideologue’s version of musical chairs.

Devin Nunes + John Strobel’s letter on Trump

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers may invite whomever she pleases to stand for her views and values and help her raise money. According to her spokesperson, Jared Powell), she supports Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but wants it concluded as quickly as possible, so it seems an odd choice to invite Devin Nunes to campaign for her at a fundraising luncheon at the Spokane Club today. As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes, in close alliance with Trump, has done everything in his power to discredit the Mueller investigation. (You can read at length in a richly sourced article the saga of the “Nunes Memo.”) Many have suggested Nunes himself should be investigated for obstruction of justice. 

With the Nunes invitation McMorris Rodgers declares her claimed “support” for Special Council Mueller’s investigation is just soothing rhetoric. Nunes’ visit her tells us that McMorris Rodgers not only wants the Mueller investigation concluded quickly but that she endorses Nunes’ partisan contortions intent on undermining an investigation in which most citizens have confidence.  

So join us as citizens of Spokane at 11:15AM outside the Spokane Club to underline the hyper-partisan politics for which McMorris Rodgers really stands. Here’s the link to the event details. Wear your sunhat and sunscreen. Wear your regular summer clothing. No candidate needs to be involved. The McMorris Rodgers/Devin Nunes alliance speaks for itself.

According to the Spokesman:

Members of Fuse Washington, which describes itself as the state’s largest progressive organization, said they plan a protest outside the Spokane Club. Brown said her campaign won’t be taking part.

“We’ll be getting out the vote for the primary,” she said.

The primary election deadline is Tuesday, August 6th. Don’t put off your homework. 

I close today with an article contributed by John Strobel, a retired journalist and editor, a friend as concerned as I am with the direction of our country:

The irony is exquisite. John Stormer’s controversial 1964 book, “None Dare Call It Treason,” opened a divide in this country when Barry Goldwater supporters used the plot of Communists infiltrating the U.S. government to support the Republican presidential nominee. Stormer died on July 10, just six days before the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit that established beyond doubt that Russians have infiltrated the Trump Organization.

At the Helsinki press conference, Donald Trump looked sick to his stomach, servile if you will, while Putin looked elated. What had Putin shown Trump in those two hours of secret negotiations earlier?

The New York Times had a Page One story on July 18 of treason now becoming a part of the national dialog. We’re way beyond “none” daring to call it treason. We now have a president of the United States who has clearly established that he is a national security risk.

On Nov. 6, we have the opportunity to launch the beginning of the end to our national nightmare and global embarrassment. We must vote out of office those who have been complicit in Donald Trump’s crimes against our Constitution, national ideals and decency.

It starts with getting rid of Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

I stand before you as a lawyer might in giving his final arguments before the jury deliberates. That jury is you, and you’ll render your verdict on Nov. 5. Here is the evidence established at trial:


Even Republicans must now admit that with the latest indictments of 12 Russian military officers, Vladimir Putin is seeking a controlling interest in the United States. Putin’s handpicked candidate — Trump — is well-entrenched in carrying out Russia’s most strategic goals: the destruction of NATO, the European Union, the World Trade Organization, and the G7 (unless Russia is allowed back in).

Russia was kicked out of the then-G8 when it invaded Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Now Trump wants Russia back in. Why? Crimea is still under Russian control, and Russian soldiers are still fighting in Eastern Ukraine. Trump also wants sanctions against Russia that were imposed by the U.S. Congress and the European Union dropped. Why?

Why are most Republicans in Congress doing whatever they can to cover up Russia’s collusion with the Trump organization to ensure Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election?

With the Helsinki summit in the rearview mirror, we have clarity. Putin and Trump colluded in spinning why we should believe their lies and reject the findings of the entire American intelligence community, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Mueller investigation. Trump blamed the victim, America, and defended the attacker, Russia. The Trump Organization is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Russia Incorporated.


• Sanctions were crippling North Korea, yet it expanded its nuclear missile threats. Trump created an artificial crisis, then said he solved it by sitting down with the most brutal dictator in the world, Kim Jong Un. While Kim got joint U.S.-South Korea war games suspended and the sanctions regime eased through China, Trump was looking around for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. But in fact, Trump has made the crisis far more dire: North Korea is upgrading its nuclear weapons facilities.

• NATO has been the most successful defense treaty in American history, but Trump wants to tear it apart. After threatening that the U.S. may walk away, he later claimed he saved the organization by getting the other members to pony up more money. They did no such thing. Now we have a weakened alliance against a resurgent enemy, Russia.

• Trump has embraced our enemies while insulting our friends. For what purpose? Why would he praise the brutish, murderous dictators of Russia, Turkey, the Philippines, North Korea, Egypt, and others? Why would he heap scorn on our closest allies, including Britain, France, Canada and Germany? It’s simple. He wants to be thought of as a strongman, even at the expense of our democracy and our oldest and dearest friends.

• Trump pulled out of the Iran treaty despite the IAEA certifying it has no nuclear weapons, nor does it have enough nuclear material to build one for at least a dozen years. Now Iran is free to develop the weapons. And Trump just created an artificial crisis as he did with North Korea.


• Children have been kidnapped on our southern borders in a flagrant attempt to keep the white race in power. Trump’s orders go way beyond child abuse. The president claims the immigrants are murderers and rapists and they broke our laws by entering illegally. He doesn’t mention that many tried to enter legally but were turned away despite U.S. laws that say they can seek refuge from rape and slaughter in their homelands. Older immigrants have been sent to private prisons where they face rape, forced labor and other indignities.
• Racism, always there in our society but for the last few decades mostly in check, has broken its societal chains. There used to be a problem of “driving while black.” Now it’s “living while black.” Same thing with anti-Semitism. “Jews will not replace us,” the marchers in Charlottesville yelled. Homophobia is making a comeback, and anti-Muslim sentiment is growing. All this so Republicans can make better gains at the ballot box, aided by gerrymandering and voter suppression.
• Trump and his congressional sycophants couldn’t get rid of the Affordable Care Act, so now they are chipping away at it. The latest, denying insurers federal money to make the pre-existing conditions mandate work, will balloon rates this fall.
• Trump knows his election team colluded with Russia, so he launched a counter-war to what he calls a “witch hunt,” namely attacking and defaming the Justice Department and FBI. And Trump’s lackeys in Congress embarrassed themselves in their interrogation of FBI agent Peter Strzok, a man who, as head of the FBI counterterrorism unit, helped keep this nation safe.
• Trump administration officials have demonstrated incredible corruption while tearing down the very agencies they had sworn to protect. Some have been allowed to retire but should have been fired, then indicted for their corruption. The list includes Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Wilbur Ross, Ryan Zinke and Ben Carson.
• Mismanagement has plagued the Veterans Administration for decades. Director David Shulkin was starting to get a handle on it when Trump nominated his personal physician to replace the fired Shulkin. Had it not been for Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana exposing Adm. Ronny Jackson’s unworthiness, the VA might have wallowed. Trump claimed he saved the VA … but it was only because he signed two of Sen. Tester’s VA bills.


• The trade war Trump launched despite centuries of evidence that it won’t work is endangering our economy and threatening a world recession. He claimed he had to do it for national security, but in fact it imperils it. And it puts to the lie that he is the master negotiator. There is no art to his deal-making. He’s a fraud. He calls our enemies — China and Russia — trade “competitors.” He calls our friends — the European Union — trade “foes.”
• The trade war has battered a key underpinning of business: the ability to plan ahead. Without the predictability of stable markets and supply chains, businesses will get conservative. The Federal Reserve Board is already warning about firms pulling back and retarding economic growth.
• The tax cut will only help the wealthy. Corporations for the most part did not use Trump’s largesse to create new jobs and modernize plants, but to increase stock dividends and buy back stock.
• The trade war and the tax cut will have the damning effect of raising interest rates faster as inflation takes hold. That means the government has to service the burgeoning debt through higher interest rates, further weakening the economy. As this is playing out, the unemployment rate will start to increase. Another serious recession is on the horizon.
• Republicans now say that because the debt is getting out of control (thanks to their efforts), we must cut back on “entitlements,” which the GOP is trying to make into a repulsive word. Yes, we are entitled to Medicare and Social Security because we and our employers paid for insurance to cover those benefits. Congresses for decades have raided the two funds to help their budgeting. Now the Republicans want to steal from us again.


The Republican Party prided itself on being the party of globalization. No more. It prided itself on being the party of fiscal conservatism. No more. It prided itself on being the party of free trade. No more.

It prided itself on being the party of family values. No more. It prided itself on being the party of law and order. No more.

The Grand Old Party no longer exists. The Republican Party, R.I.P., is now the Trump Party.
Hitler and Mussolini came to power by democratic means, then destroyed their democracies. Trump wants to be on that trajectory by tearing down the institutions that protect our republic. Don’t let him do it. Step up and vote this November for whatever Democrats are on your ballots. Talk to your friends, families, co-workers and neighbors about doing the same thing.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, America needs you.

John Strobel

Keep to the high ground,


Judgeship Election/Primary Election Civics

Dear Group,

Primary Election Civics–why bother now when there are only two candidates and we know we’re going to see them again on the General Election ballot? Candidates, political organizations, and donors scrutinize the results. Does this candidate have a chance? How is the overall turnout? What is the level of enthusiasm? Is it worth my (our) investing time, money, and energy in this candidate for the General Election? Is there “buzz”? Is there momentum? Answers to all these questions will affect what happens in November.

Judgeship Elections–A puzzling part of your Primary ballot.

In Spokane County the Primary Ballot presents us with a choice of three “District Court Judge Position 1” candidates, Lynden P. Smithson, Randy Arnold Brandt, and Patrick T. Johnson. 

Civics: So why is there just one judgeship contest on the primary ballot? Simple answer: It is the only judgeship position for which Spokane County voters get a vote this year that has three contenders. In those cases where there are only two contenders the choice appears on the General Election ballot only (Dennis Cronin v. Michelle Szambelan for Spokane Superior Court Judge Pos. 10 is the one for which I’ve seen yard signs). The two top vote getters of this District Court three-way we see on the current Primary ballot will appear on the General Election ballot in November. In contrast, General Election Ballot in Spokane County will have 13 judgeships up for a vote (8 of 8 Spokane District Court, 1 of 12 Spokane Superior Court, 1 Washington State Court of Appeals, and 3 Washington State Supreme Court judgeships). Of course, only some sitting judges have a challenger.

So what about this local race for Spokane County District Court? (click here for a great orientation to the Washington State Court System). Here’s the short version from wikipedia on District Courts:

These are courts of limited jurisdiction that hear traffic infractions, criminal traffic citations, misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, civil cases with an amount in controversy less than $100,000, and small claims suits.[2] The District Court conducts trials and other attendant hearings.[3] District Court judges are elected and serve four-year terms.

The District Court system is ground zero for citizen contact with the legal system. It’s important. These are the judges any one of us might encounter after a misstep.

So whom to chose in this race? I cast my vote for Lynden Smithson although that is a close call for me between Smithson and Patrick Johnson,. You can glean some sense of demeanor and history by clicking the names that I’ve linked to interviews on Spokane Talks with Sue Lani Madsen. Here is the link to the Spokesman’s overview article. I specifically will not vote for Brandt. In 2014 Brandt was the first incumbent Spokane County judge to lose a re-election bid to the bench since 1990. He has been accused of deception for re-using yard signs saying “Judge Brandt,” suggesting, incorrectly, that he is still a judge. Finally, Brandt is fervently recommended by WeBelieveWeVote, an organization that uses criteria more fitting of Republican partisan politics (gun rights, border security, and support of the electoral college system, for example) more than criteria I recognize from the Christian tradition (United Methodism) in which I grew up. Their endorsement of this man for a “non-partisan” judgeship I see as a red flag. 

I would like to see a choice in November between Smithson and Johnson, at which point I can look again.

Keep to the high ground,



CMR Brings Devin Nunes to Town

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers has not held a well-advertised town hall since well before the Trump era. In the few small flash town halls she has held (Green Bluff on May 29th comes to mind), her best answer to pointed questions is either “I’ll have to look at that again, perhaps now is not the time” (on deregulating gun silencers) or “I think, ah, I dunno…what do you think we should do?” (in response to a question on climate change). Letters responding to questions, rather than presenting a reasoned argument, often sign off with “I’ll keep your opinion in mind as I work on this.” 

She suggests she will talk with Trump about the tariffs that will hurt Washington agriculture and makes “tsk, tsk” sounds in response to Trump praising Putin and thumbing his nose at our allies in Europe. Certainly she would like worried moderates in eastern Washington to believe she can influence Trump in their favor, but she does nothing beyond tepid words.

Will she stand up for the integrity of our elections, for the integrity and continuance of the Mueller investigation, for American values against a Russian dictator? 

She offers a clear answer to those questions displayed in the handbill posted above. She and her campaign (Paid for by Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress) have invited, as the “Special Guest” to a fundraising luncheon at the Spokane Club, the Republican Representative most infamous in the nation for attacking the integrity of the Russian election meddling investigation headed by Robert Mueller. 

McMorris Rodgers could not have more clearly stated her position. She has chosen sides. She brings to our district the congressman most committed to discrediting the Mueller investigation. Jared Powell, her spokesman, informs us, “She [CMR] supports Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but wants it concluded as quickly as possible.” With her Nunes fundraiser in mind that sounds like code for, “Mueller’s investigation is a thorn in my side. It should be discredited and wrapped up as soon as possible so we get on with Russia’s takeover of our country.”

You can’t make this stuff up. For review:

Devin Nunes is a seven term Republican hailing from a heavily Republican central California district created by the 2000 re-apportionment. Steve Bannon has described Devin Nunes as the second strongest supporter of Donald Trump in Congress. (see How Devin Nunes Turned the House Intelligence Committee Inside Out). Nunes has consistently attacked the FBI and the investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller to the point of making even some Republicans vocally uncomfortable. His name appears on the widely discredited “Nunes Memo” attacking the FBI and trying to discredit Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Nunes was the subject of an investigation by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (the office the Republicans under McMorris Rodgers’ chairmanship tried to gut at the beginning of this Congress, in itself a suspicious act, since CMR is still the subject of an investigation by the OCE). From USA Today:

The California Republican [Nunes] temporarily stepped aside from the Russia investigation [by the House Intelligence Committee which Nunes chaired] in April [2017] because of the ethics probe, which launched after Nunes took a secret trip to White House grounds last spring to review information gathered by unnamed sources purporting to show that President Trump was under surveillance by the Obama administration during the 2016 campaign.

After the independent Office of Congressional Ethics referred the probe to the Republican controlled House Committee on Ethics the investigation was dropped. (The other investigation, the one into McMorris Rodgers’ campaign finance dealings is still moldering in a back closet at the Republican-controlled House Committee on Ethics.)

Please remember how “restoring trust in government” and “bipartisan” roll off McMorris Rodgers’ lips in mixed company. Really? Then she allies herself with the most hyper-partisan, breathless conspiracy spinner in Congress…and brings him to Spokane, the Spokane Club, no less, for a fundraising lunch…  You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. Was she doing this sort of thing before when we weren’t paying attention? 

Who in Spokane thinks Devin Nunes’ conspiracies are meritorious and also has the money, time, and enthusiasm to actually attend a luncheon and hear him speak?

It certainly is not my neighbor, who usually votes Republican. She admitted last Monday evening she was so upset with the Trump/Putin lovefest that she had already cast her ballot for Lisa Brown. May there be many more sensible Republicans just like her.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Read Shawn Vestal’s Wednesday column on McMorris Rodgers’ vile attack ad.

P.S.S. McMorris Rodgers could be in town for nearly a month starting this Thursday. See the Congressional Calendar.

An Open Letter to CMR–Followup

Dear Group,

Much has happened since the Open Letter to Rep. McMorris Rodgers hit Facebook, Twitter, and email inboxes yesterday morning. If you haven’t seen McMorris Rodgers’ vile ad you can see snippets of it in the news coverage on KXLY from last evening. Susan Hammond was interviewed for the piece. Neither McMorris Rodgers nor her campaign would comment. 

The vile ad is “approved by Cathy McMorris Rodgers,” which, in my view, only serves to point out the dark McMorris Rodgers living behind her “Christian” mom exterior. She knows these are lies, but she personally authorizes them. She makes no attempt to distance herself. 

The only defense against lies is to forcefully call them out. You can help

I encourage you to like/share on Facebook

and like/retweet on Twitter

If you know a local healthcare professional who might be willing to sign on share this link with them:

If you want to forward the letter to other media outlets please do. The professional community’s outrage is the driver. (The signatures go on for two and a half pages currently.)

I have copied the original letter and original signatures below in case you missed it.

In other news:

McMorris Rodgers is doubling down on her devotion to Donald Trump. She is bringing Devin Nunes right to little old Spokane as a special guest for a fundraising luncheon next Monday at the Spokane Club at noon. I’ll be covering that tomorrow. There will be a protest. Mark your calendars.

Finally, some fun. This Saturday, July 28, at 5PM join us at Hamilton Studios for the Spokane County Democrats 2018 Salmon Feed & BBQ. Sign up today Check out the ads posted above and below.

Sign up for “get out the vote canvassing.” Check out the Canvassing Links in the Calendar Section. 

Keep to the high ground,


An Open Letter to CMR

Dear Group,

A letter in response to recent scurrilous ads by CMR. Share widely.

 An Open Letter to Rep. McMorris Rodgers from Spokane Child Abuse and Prevention Experts and Community Leaders:

Together, we, the undersigned, represent decades of experience providing prevention and treatment services to eastern Washington families. We have provided extensive community service on the frontlines of child abuse prevention, post traumatic trauma treatment for all forms of family violence, including physical and sexual assault and abuse of children, pediatric healthcare, and related community and family services. 

We are dismayed and deeply disappointed to see television ads and printed campaign materials approved by Rep. McMorris Rodgers that falsely accuse Lisa Brown of endangering vulnerable children during her term as a State Senator in the 1990’s.

Lisa has a long record of advocacy and legislative leadership on the prevention of child abuse and sexual assault, including helping to organize the first “Take Back the Night” March in Spokane in the 1980’s to bring awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault.  Lisa worked in the legislature on many measures to safeguard women and families, and currently serves on the board of the YWCA in Spokane, which serves victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in our community.

“For over 20 years as a Spokane pediatrician, I was one of the only pediatricians to provide exams and testify in court for child abuse cases. Lisa Brown was always a consistent advocate for child safety throughout her time in the Washington State legislature, including sponsoring SB 5570 which made it a crime to communicate with a minor for ‘immoral purposes,’ and in 2005 supported ‘community protection zones’ which prohibit sex offenders from living within 880 feet ‘of the facilities or grounds of a public or private school.’ Lisa has worked hard to fund child abuse prevention work that helped nurture families so they could keep their own children safe.” -Deb Harper, MD, FAAP

Rep. McMorris Rodgers decision to distribute a provocative fearful image, mailed to tens of thousands of homes in eastern Washington, reinforces harmful stereotypes that do not correspond with the data on sexual assault perpetrators. Further, this image references racial stereotypes that reinforce explicit racism and implicit racial biases that have devastating consequences for people of color in our country.

For these reasons, we strongly condemn Rep. McMorris Rodgers campaign materials, and call on her first to publicly apologize to Lisa Brown, and second to cease using this dishonest and harmful campaign tactic immediately.

We expect the truth and civility from our elected representatives and we call on Rep. McMorris Rodgers to serve the best interests of the community and the people she represents.


Deb Harper, MD, FAAP

Susan Hammond, MSN, Former Director, Psychiatric Services, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center

Mary Ann Murphy, MS, Founding Director, Partners with Families & Children

Edward J. Averett, MS, (Clinical Psychology)

George Girvin, MD

Marilee Roloff, Former Director, Crosswalk Spokane/Volunteers of America

Pam Silverstein MD FACOG Spokane Obstetrician-Gynecologist

Dr. Kent Hoffman, Psychotherapist and Developmental Researcher

Lynne H. Williams, MD, Developmental Pediatrician, Child, Adolescent, Family Psychiatrist

David W. Moershel, MD, Pediatrician

Chris Crutcher, BA, Family Therapist & Author

Sally Winkle Ph.D., Former Director, Women and Gender Studies, EWU

Sandra Altshuler, Ph.D., L.I.C.S.W.

J. John Charyk, MD

Kim Connolley MSN, RN, Formert Nurse Manager, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Psychiatric Center For Children and Adolescents

Miriam Berkman, Ph.D.

Dan Weidert RN, BSN – 25 years in Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry

Mary Noble M.D. FACP, Internal Medicine Physician

Hershel Zellman M.D. AAFP, Family Practice Physician

Keep to the high ground,



Local Voters’ Resources and Notes on Voters’ Guides

Dear Group,

Washington State Midterm Primary Election ballots are in registered voters’ mailboxes by now. Vote! But don’t let your sense of obligation end there. Talk up the need to vote with anyone you suspect may cast a favorable ballot. Wear your Lisa Brown T-shirt to the grocery store, the library, out to concerts in the parks. Study your local races, make choices. Talk up your choices and your reasons for those choices with your neighbors and anyone you know who might have that race on their ballot too. Keep up the buzz.

There are a lot of overlapping territories that determine who appears on your particular ballot. The territories of this year’s elections (Primary and General) include statewide (U.S. Senator), U.S Congressional (#5, or “CD5” for us), state legislative district races, a slew of countywide offices, and a number of judgeships. (For an interactive Washington State map of legislative districts, click here.)

To most of my readers a vote for Lisa Brown for U.S. CD5 Representative and for Maria Cantwell for U.S. Senator are pretty obvious, but what about “down ballot?” The candidate bios and statements in the online voters’ guide (at or the paper voters’ guide are useful…but not comprehensive.

I recommend the as a must-view resource. Candidates are evaluated based on endorsements of a range of progressive organizations. Importantly, the reason for the choice is stated in a short narrative that goes well beyond buzz words. I encourage you to check it out and recommend it to others.

There is another website worth visiting–mostly to observe the close linkage of certain segments of Christianity with the Republican Party. (seen advertised on local billboards) is an instructive…and, for me, a disturbing…tool. Have a look. Only Spokane and Stevens County candidates are presented. Candidates are evaluated entirely on their stands on certain hot button issues I do not recognize from my United Methodist upbringing: gender fluidity, civil unions, same-sex marriage, abortion, recreational marijuana, and, oddly, support of “electoral college reform” and “weak borders.” (You might wonder what “weak borders” has to do with the office of Spokane County Clerk…) This is not my parents’ Christianity (any more than, I suppose, the current Republican Party is anything like my parents’ Republican Party.)

As a confirmed United Methodist, the WeBelieve criteria for Christian faith and “alignment” are jarring. I went digging on the WeBelieve website and found this page, the “Pastor to Pastor” letter. Scrolling to the bottom one finds a listing of 97 local pastors who endorse this political website. Have a look. On my browser, if I hit COMMAND F (for “find”) I can type in a word to see how many times that word appears on the page. Here is a selection of findings from the pastor and church listings of WeBelieve: Methodist (0), Congregationalist (0), Episcopal (0), Catholic (0), Unitarian (0), Presbyterian (1-Lidgerwood), Baptist (12), “Life” (9), Assembly of God (5), Nazarene (3), Lutheran (3). Search for yours. (Note McMorris Rodgers was brought up in the Fundamentalist Baptist tradition, arguably to right of most of the denominations and pastors listed. She is “Highly Aligned” with this website’s political agenda.) That adds up to 33 Spokane area churches at least loosely identified with a denomination. The other 64 are apparently unaffiliated, that is, not officially connected to a denomination. 

WeBelieve knows it is skating on the edge of violating the IRS rules governing 501(c)(3)s and political involvement. They present a “Legal Do’s and Don’ts” page. I know there are many pastors who don’t believe, for instance, that the Second Amendment and “strong borders” are articles of Christian faith. I urge those pastors to read the “Do’s and Don’ts” and speak out against this political propaganda dressed up as Christian values. WeBelieve is a thinly veiled co-option of parts of Christianity by the Republican Party. It is a shame the donors to 501(c)(3) non-profits are not publicly identified. Is financial support offered contingent on political alignment? There is no way to know, but one cannot help but wonder.

WeBelieve has some use for me. It tells me for whom not to vote. WeBelieve represents few if any of the Christian values with which I was brought up. The values I carry from that upbringing include forgiveness, grace, tolerance, and understanding, not armed isolation and fear of the other.

I am heartened by the many Christians, both parishioners and pastors, I have met who still share the values with which I was brought up, people who are open, tolerant, helpful, people who work for justice, not restriction, people who don’t think “strong borders” and shoddy treatment of asylum-seekers is a Christian value, people who have not been co-opted for a political agenda by a Party that has lost its soul.

So do your research, engage, come out for the GOTV (get out the vote) canvassing, discuss, listen, cajole.