Election Day 2015 was a great success for the environment.
Across the state, 89% of Washington Conservation Voters endorsed environmental champions were elected to office! In many of these races, the environment was the defining issue – from stopping oil and coal terminals to creating livable communities with transit to protecting our clean air and water. Electing these local leaders to office today is essential to our work to protect the environment now and for years to come, as many seek higher office.
Unfortunately, our main disappointment is in the 30th Legislative District, where WCV endorsed candidate Carol Gregory was defeated in a special election race that leaves the House with a slimmer environmental majority. We will continue to collect data and input from this race and all our races to craft a stronger, more resilient program that will stand up to the repeated attacks by the fossil fuel industry and others who stand in the way of progress in the legislature.
But across the state, there are stories backed by victorious campaigns that support the notion that voters want leaders looking to the future – a future that invests in a clean energy economy, not fossil fuel infrastructure of the past.
We won these races in a large part due to our incredible organizing. This year alone we had 1,147 volunteers, 37,000 active members, and 125 Earth Angels. Together we knocked on 18,159 doors, made 53,572 phone calls, and hosted dozens of doorbell days including two statewide canvass days with over 100 volunteers! We couldn’t do this work without your support. Thank you.
The results from 2015 have provided a strong foundation to begin our campaign to re-elect the Governor, elect environmental champions in nearly all the House and Senate races in 2016, and be a national state leader for climate action.
The following is a description of our successes in key races this year.
The Vancouver Port Commission race was a referendum on the largest proposed oil-by-rail terminal in the United States. Pro-environmental and anti-oil terminal candidate Eric LaBrant defeated the oil industry-backed candidate by 13 points. Washington Conservation Voters and local volunteers launched a massive grassroots campaign here and we were critical in turning out voters against the proposed terminal from both sides of the political spectrum.
King and Snohomish Counties
Fred Felleman won decisively in the General Election for Seattle Port Commission. A longtime activist for Puget Sound protection, Fred defeated special interests in the Primary Election and ran on a platform that Seattle can be both a working and a green port.
King County voters also gained a bold leader and transit advocate by electing Claudia Balducci for King County Council. In Snohomish County, Dave Somers, four-time WCV-endorsed candidate and region-wide champion for Puget Sound and farmland protection was elected County Executive. Environmental leader Brian Sullivan also appears to have won his re-election to the County Council as well.
It seems every year we talk about Whatcom County, but only because Big Coal refuses to stop. The coal industry once again failed to change the makeup of the County Council in their effort to build a coal export terminal at Cherry Point. Voters passed Charter Proposition 9 which will stop Big Coal’s plan to change how the county council seats are created. In addition, Washington Conservation Voters’ and community members not only held on to the pro-environmental majority we worked to elect in 2013, we picked up another seat resulting in a pro-environmental super majority on the Council. Former WCV chapter member Todd Donovan won his seat for County Council and Satpal Sidhu won a previously held anti-environmental County Council seat.
Opposing the fossil fuel industry can be a dangerous political topic. But with the realities of climate change beating at the door, candidates are willing to take on the issue. Before it was politically okay, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart had the courage and foresight to pass a resolution that opposed oil and coal trains from passing through Spokane. He won handily and so did another WCV endorsed candidate Lori Kinnear.
In the town of Hoquaim, residents are pushing back against multiple oil-by-rail projects that endanger communities and waterways. Newly elected Mayor Jasmine Dickhoff has a vision for Hoquaim that extends beyond heavy industry like oil terminals and could create a new model for small towns embracing the new energy economy.
WCV has built an incredible grassroots force which made this year a great election year for the environment – and it was because of you. Thank you!