June Robinson appointed to state House seat

County Council members say each of the three women would have been good choices for the position.

June Robinson

June Robinson

By Jerry Cornfield, The Herald

EVERETT — June Robinson of Everett became Snohomish County’s newest member of the state House of Representatives on Monday.

The Snohomish County Council voted unanimously to appoint Robinson, a Democrat, to replace Rep. John McCoy who became a state senator last month.

She took the oath of office immediately after the council’s decision.

“I am very excited,” she said. “I will go there and work hard to serve the people of the 38th Legislative District.”

The appointment will last until she or another candidate is certified as the winner in the 2014 general election.

Robinson’s selection had been anticipated since she emerged from a pack of seven candidates as the top choice of the party on Dec. 10.

That night she finished ahead of Jennifer Smolen of Marysville and Deborah Parker of Tulalip in the final round of balloting by the district’s precinct committee officers.

County Council members interviewed the three nominees before voting 5-0 to install Robinson in the $42,106-a-year job representing residents in Everett, Tulalip and a slice of Marysville.

Smolen, an Iraq war veteran, worked as an aide for state Sen. Steve Hobbs in 2011 and then for Snohomish County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright in late 2011 and early 2012.

Parker is the elected vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes. She formerly worked as legislative policy analyst for the tribes.

Republican Councilman John Koster, a former state lawmaker, praised the talents of the three women, calling them “the best group of people we’ve ever interviewed” for a political appointment.

“This was probably one of the most difficult decisions this council has had,” he said.

Councilman Brian Sullivan, a Democrat and another onetime legislator, described the trio as an “an all-star cast.”

And Councilman Dave Somers, also a Democrat, said the three women are shining examples of public service and each would be a star in the Legislature.

Robinson has spent her career involved in programs dealing with human services and community health care. She told the council she would like to serve on House committees that deal with those issues.

She’s worked as a program manager for King County Public Health since 2012 and said she’ll take a leave of absence when the Legislature begins its 60-day regular session in January.

She formerly served as executive director of the Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County which focuses on expanding affordable housing in the community.

She also is a member of the city of Everett’s Salary Commission and its Human Needs Committee. And she is on the steering committee of the Northwest Neighborhood Association.

Robinson ran unsuccessfully for Everett City Council in 2011 and 2012. She had been seeking an open seat on the council until Sen. Nick Harper resigned in early November.

When it seemed clear either McCoy or state Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, would be chosen to fill Harper’s seat, she ended her council pursuit to focus on securing whichever seat opened. She said a number of people encouraged her to do so, including House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle.

Robinson is married and has two sons who are both in college.

Party to narrow search for 38th District vacancy

By Jerry Cornfield, The Herald, December 10, 2013

EVERETT — Democrats in the 38th Legislative District are expected tonight to decide three candidates to fill former Rep. John McCoy’s seat now that he’s serving in the Senate.

Seven people are vying for the post and the Democratic precinct committee officers gathering at 7 p.m. in the Everett Labor Temple will nominate three of them for the job.

The Snohomish County Council will interview those nominees and make the appointment next Monday afternoon.

The appointee will represent the district, which includes Everett, Tulalip and part of Marysville. To keep the $42,106-a-year job, the person will need to win a full two-year term in next fall’s election.

June Robinson, Jennifer Smolen, Deborah Parker, Ed Triezenberg, Kelly Wright, Ray Miller and David Simpson are the candidates.

Robinson, of Everett, is a program manager with Public Health Seattle & King County and secretary of the legislative district. She ran unsuccessfully for Everett City Council in 2011 and 2012.

Smolen, of Marysville, worked as an aide to state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, in 2011 and Democratic Snohomish County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright in parts of 2011 and 2012. She also served a stint on the state committee of the Democratic Party.

Parker, of Tulalip, was elected vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes in 2012 and recently testified to congressional committees on the Violence Against Women Act.

Triezenberg, of Tulalip, is a longtime official in organized labor. He’s a former lobbyist for the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters and presently works for the Carpenters Union. He has said he will run for the seat regardless of the outcome of the appointment process.

Wright, of Marysville, is a former state House aide and current state committee representative from the district. He has said if selected he will only serve for the 2014 session and not run next year in order to let voters pick the person they want for the full term.

Miller, of Marysville, is a certified veterans services officer, and founder of the nonprofit veteran assistance group, Vets Place Northwest-Welcome Home. He also is vice-chairman of the 38th Legislative District Democrats as well as chairman of its membership and endorsement committees.

Simpson, of Everett, served on the Everett City Council from 1998 through 2001 and as an appointed state legislator in 2004. He represents the district Democrats on the executive board of the county Democratic Party.

McCoy was appointed to the Senate last month to replace Nick Harper who resigned.

County leadership still in limbo

Aaron Reardon has yet to formalize his resignation, which muddles the process for an appointment and election.

Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick and state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, have put forward their names seeking the position

By Noah Haglund, The Herald

EVERETT — The timing of Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon’s May 31 resignation has been a head-scratcher since he announced it in February.

If Reardon had opted to step down before the official candidate-filing period began this week, the county could have scheduled a special election in November to fill the two-plus years remaining on his term.

For that reason, some political insiders have speculated that Reardon would move up his resignation date. All the more so because the scandals dogging the executive have only grown since Feb. 14, when The Herald published a story linking two Reardon staffers to public records requests and attack websites targeting their boss’ enemies. Reardon has said he was unaware of the activity.

Sunday came and went, without Reardon sending a letter to the County Council formalizing his resignation.

That means whoever is appointed to fill Reardon’s job will serve unchallenged at least into November 2014, when results are certified in a special election expected next year.

Here’s a breakdown of the appointment process:

•Because Reardon is a Democrat in a partisan elected office, the law says it’s up to Snohomish County Democrats to pick three nominees to replace him. The county party’s central committee will forward the names to the County Council.

For the council to start the process, it needs to have written notice from the executive. That had not occurred as of Monday afternoon. Reardon never answered a May 2 letter from the council asking him to submit the letter and make good on his promise to create a seamless transition.

The County Council will have 60 days from the date of the vacancy to make a final selection. If a majority of the council is unable to choose an appointee, the task goes to the governor, who has 30 days to make a decision.

Under the county charter, Reardon’s deputy executive, Gary Haakenson, would be the acting executive for any period between Reardon’s departure and the appointment of his successor.

A special election to fill the remainder of Reardon’s term would occur on Nov. 4, 2014.

The person appointed executive can run in the special election and will serve until those results are certified. That’s due to happen on Nov. 25, 2014.

An election for the full, four-year term is scheduled in 2015.

The appointment and the special election would not count toward the candidate’s term limits. An executive may serve no more than three consecutive four-year terms.

So far, Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick and state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, have put forward their names seeking the position. Lovick appears to have sewn up support from a majority of local Democrats. The party continues to seek a third nominee, said Richard Wright, chairman of Snohomish County Democrats.

Vietnam vets get the recognition they deserve

By Julie Muhlstein, The Herald

Photo courtesy of Rep. John McCoyRep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, during his Air Force duty in the 1960s. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, McCoy was stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, a major supply base for U.S. forces in the Vietnam War.

Photo courtesy of Rep. John McCoy
Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, during his Air Force duty in the 1960s. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, McCoy was stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, a major supply base for U.S. forces in the Vietnam War.

There was no heroes’ welcome. When Tim McDonald and other Americans returned from their Vietnam War duty, they were ignored or worse.

“Many Vietnam veterans, myself included, we didn’t feel the support of the nation at all,” he said Thursday.

McDonald, 65, was in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. He was in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971.

It was 40 years ago today — March 29, 1973 — that the last U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam, officially ending direct American military involvement in the Vietnam War. Two years later, in 1975, the Saigon government fell.

McDonald lives on Whidbey Island. He is retiring today from his job as director of the Snohomish Health District’s communicable disease control division. Not only does the Vietnam War seem like ages ago, he said, “it seems like an entire separate universe.”

One major difference between then and now is the honor accorded servicemen and women returning from war. Today, Americans are united in our gratitude for veterans’ military service.

During the Vietnam War era, that wasn’t so. Troops came home to anti-war demonstrations, and were ignored or insulted.

Today, our state takes a step toward righting a wrong. At 9:15 a.m., Gov. Jay Inslee plans to sign House Bill 1319, an act declaring that March 30 be recognized each year as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day in Washington state.

Not a legal holiday, it’s a day of remembrance on which public places will display the POW-MIA flag along with the American flag. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima, and a number of co-sponsors, including Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip.

The proposal was brought to Johnson by a member of the Yakama Warriors Association, an American Indian veterans group in Eastern Washington.

An Air Force veteran, McCoy was stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines in 1968. That was the year of the Tet Offensive, heavy attacks by North Vietnamese forces. Clark Air Base was the major supply base for U.S. forces in Vietnam.

McCoy didn’t serve in Vietnam, but his memories of seeing what happened there are vivid.

“My place of work was across the street from the base morgue. I did see coffins stacked up,” McCoy said Wednesday.

He said his wife Jeannie had the harder time. A civilian worker in the base hospital’s records section, “she had to take records all over the facility,” McCoy said. “Hallways, waiting rooms, everywhere was clogged with the wounded, still in battle uniforms. It took her a long time to get over that.”

It is decades late, but McCoy hopes the day to welcome Vietnam veterans home will make a meaningful statement.

“My hope is that it brings closure for the troops, that their service is acknowledged and that it was not in vain,” McCoy said. “We still have veterans — that war will never leave them. They still struggle with it,” he said.

After Inslee signs the bill, the state House and Senate will honor Vietnam veterans. There will also be a short ceremony today at the Washington State Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Capitol campus.

“Too often our Vietnam veterans returned home to a less than grateful nation, so it is fitting that we embrace these heroes today,” Alfie Alvarado, director of the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, said in a statement Thursday. She said Washington is home to more than 200,000 Vietnam veterans.

Heidi Audette, a spokeswoman for the state’s veterans department, said Vietnam veterans are encouraged to seek the benefits they earned. “There are specific problems tied to exposure to Agent Orange. It’s not too late to go back to the VA, for either health care services or disability compensation,” she said.

Tim Davis is the manager and head clinician at the Everett Vet Center, a facility of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The treatment Vietnam vets got after they got back home from Vietnam was almost criminal. They felt the rejection by the general population,” Davis said.

He believes that even if Vietnam veterans say the welcome-home day is coming way too late, the state’s action will touch them. “What they will say is, ‘It’s too late.’ The reality will be something different,” Davis said.

In recent years, veterans have told Davis that strangers have come up to thank them after seeing a baseball cap or other indication that they served in Vietnam. “They tell me this in tears,” he said.

Davis served in the Army from 1969 until 1991. During the Vietnam War, he worked in amputee services at Valley Forge Army General Hospital in Pennsylvania.

Today, he helps veterans of all ages who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“It doesn’t matter if it was Somalia or Vietnam or Iraq, it’s all the same. But these young kids coming back have some appreciation from the country,” Davis said. “It’s different from Vietnam. They don’t understand what it feels like to be rejected by your country.”

McDonald, the Vietnam veteran from Whidbey, appreciates the welcome.

“The legislators who wrote this law did it to try to balance what happened in the past,” McDonald said. “They were doing something good. They really had their hearts in the right place.”

Herald writer Jerry Cornfield contributed to this story.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Help for veterans

Vietnam veterans or their survivors needing information about benefits may call 800-562-2308 or email: benefits@dva.wa.gov.

The Everett Vet Center is at 3311 Wetmore Ave. Contact the center at 425-252-9701 or 877-927-8387.

McCoy’s measures salute veterans and military families

Armed-forces training, experience recognized in legislation sent over to Senate

Clint Robbins, Legislative News, March 13, 2013

OLYMPIA — Here’s a definitive “no-brainer” we can all recognize: Men and women who have come out of the Armed Forces honorably should certainly receive respect and recognition for their service when they are pursuing a college education or professional licensing.

The House of Representatives today passed House Bill 1858 and House Bill 1859, sponsored by state Rep. John McCoy, to write this recognition into state policy.

“Colleges and universities should have a policy in place by December 31, 2014, to recognize and award academic credit for military-training courses or programs,” McCoy said of his HB 1858. “The policy must be submitted to the Prior Learning Assessment work group for evaluation. Schools must provide a copy of their policy to award academic credit for military training to enrolled students who have listed prior or present military service in their application.”

McCoy’s HB 1859 directs that military training and experience should satisfy requirements for professional licensing if the training or experience is documented and substantially equivalent to the requirements in state law.

“The Department of Defense is thrilled with the House passage of HB 1858,” said Mark B. San Souci, Northwest Regional State Liaison, Defense State Liaison Office, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Military Community and Family Policy.

“There has been good progress with the Washington State Prior Learning Assessment Group established in 2010 legislation,” San Souci added. “Passage of this measure continues that progress by requiring our college and universities to develop policies to provide earned academic credit for our new veterans when we have already paid for their training with our hard-earned federal-tax dollars. We are extremely grateful for Representative McCoy’s proactive approach to this issue to aid our new veterans and American heroes.”

“The Department of Defense is also thrilled with the passage of HB 1859 because it complements House Bill 1858 which has also already passed the House,” San Souci said. “This second bill leverages what Washington state regulatory agencies and boards are working hard to make possible — specifically, that newly separated military members should receive occupational-license credit, where deserved, for their military education and training. After all, this previous education and training has already been paid for by people’s federal tax dollars. If passed in the Senate and signed by the governor, Representative McCoy’s efforts on this issue and other, similar matters will greatly help our new veterans reach their academic goals — and then secure rewarding employment. We are extremely grateful for Representative McCoy’s proactive approach to this issue to make sure there are reasonable programs and policies for our new veterans and American heroes.”