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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: Krist Novoselic

Catching up…

Farmers markets and the state of the state treasury have been keeping me busy lately, but here’s some interesting stuff that’s been piling up in the in box:

-Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, who created a stir earlier this month by declaring himself a candidate for county clerk in tiny Wakhiakum County, has pulled out of the race.

“My protest is over,” he wrote recently in a column on the Seattle Weekly’s blog. He said his very-brief candidacy was a stunt to draw attention to what he sees as a grievous wrong about Washington’s new “Top Two” primary elections. Under the new system, which allows people to specify virtually any “party preference,” political parties have no control over who runs under their name. To demonstrate this, Novoselic filed as preferring the non-existent “Grange Party.” Writes Novoselic:

Looking back, perhaps I should have chosen an organization which would have been more willing to protect its trademark? How about the Prefers Starbucks Party? Maybe Microsoft? The best would be the Prefers Walt Disney Party—because claiming Disney would further demonstrate what a Mickey-Mouse system this is.

We undoubtedly haven’t heard the last of the topic from Novoselic, though. He’s the guest speaker at a lecture at the capitol July 2nd. TVW will tape it to play on the public affairs network statewide and on their website.

-Politico’s “lighter side of politics” column has the tale of a bizarre overreaction when Elizabeth Becton, the scheduler/office manager for Congressman Jim McDermott, was addressed as “Liz” in a quick email from someone wanting an appointment with the congressman.

Becton’s emailed responses — all seven of them — to this perceived slight start with an icy “Who is Liz?” and quickly move on to browbeating the woman:

“If I wanted you to call me by any other name, I would have offered that to you…Now, please do not ever call me by a nickname again…Sounds like you got played by someone who KNOWS I hate that name and that it’s a fast way to TICK me off. Who told you that I go by that name? They are not your friend.”

The executive assistant trying to set up the appointment apologized. Over and over. Six times, in fact. Becton was not mollified.

“In the future, you should be VERY careful about such things…Quit apologizing and never call me anything but Elizabeth again. Also, make sure you correct anyone who attempts to call me by any other name but Elizabeth. Are we clear on this?”

etc. etc. The story has generated hundreds of comments on Politico’s website, many suggesting a very different nickname for Becton. But I think the first one sums it up best:

“Settle down Liz. You sound like a sack full of crazy.”

-The Olympian’s Brad Shannon points out that the governor’s guidance on more budget cuts also calls for a hiring preference for state employees. From Gregoire’s memo:

If agencies need to hire, I want to reiterate my direction that agencies should not hire from outside state government until efforts to consider qualified candidates from among those affected by layoffs are exhausted. We cannot underestimate the value of trained and experienced state employees.

Multiple hat tips: Dave Ammons.

Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic running for Wahkiakum County clerk…

Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic has filed election papers to run for clerk of tiny Wahkiakum County, one of the most sparsely populated counties in the state.

The county auditor’s office confirmed to me this morning that Novoselic has filed not as a Democrat or Republican, but under the category “prefers Grange party.”

That’s a reference to Novoselic’s longtime involvement in the Grange, a rural community organization with its roots in agriculture and political populism. Novoselic is the Master of Grays River Grange No. 124, presiding over meetings and rituals.

“The formality of what Novoselic calls `The Orthodox Grange’ appeals to his sense of propriety and down-home togetherness,” state oral historian John Hughes wrote recently in his excellent profile of Novoselic. “The old wood-frame Grange Hall radiates history.”

The county is the third smallest in the state, with a population of less than 4,000 people. The county seat, Cathlamet, numbers just 565 people.

Novoselic has long been interested in the mechanics and promise of politics. In 2004, he wrote “Of Grunge and Government — Let’s Fix this Broken Democracy.” He’s a Democrat — in fact, he’s the chairman of the Wahkiakum County Democrats — but Hughes described him as “fundamentally a lower-case democrat who believes that partisanship and the politics of marginalization are harmful to the country.”

He’s also a longtime advocate of ranked-choice voting, also known as Instant Runoff Voting.

In a grange blog announcing his candidacy, Novoselic notes that the group is nonpartisan. But under the rules of the state’s new “top two” primary, candidates are allowed broad latitude to describe their political beliefs. (In the new primary’s trial run last year, one man ran as a candidate of the hitherto-unheard-of “Salmon Yoga Party.”

Novoselic, saying he’s a strong believer in the constitutional right of free association, says its a mistake to let candidates describe themselves as members of a particular party, regardless of whether the party actually accepts them. The state’s Democratic and Republican parties have made the same argument for years.

“My problem is not really with a top-two runoff election,” Novoselic wrote on the grange blog. “My issue is with the way candidates can appropriate the name of a private group.”

He’s running against County Clerk Kay M. Holland, who was appointed to the post in January after the former clerk retired. Prior to the promotion, Holland had served as chief deputy clerk for 14 years.

Holland, a fellow Democrat, said she knows Novoselic from the county party meetings, but hasn’t yet talked to him about the decision to file for the seat.

“Nice guy,” she said.

Novoselic keeps his hand in music, playing periodically, but is clearly attached to his rural life and the sense of community he’s found. Here, in an appearance a year ago at Seattle’s Experience Music Project, he talks about trying to balance things:


Hat tip: to Kelly Haughton, at the blog Ranked Choice Voting in Washington.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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