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Sun., Aug. 22, 2010

Election lost; wisdom won

At the end of the day, I lost – and I lost BIG …

So what are the lessons learned?

I learned that sometimes it just doesn’t matter how hard you work.

I knocked on 5,920 doors in 64 of the 65 precincts in the 3rd Legislative District and got the least votes.

I learned that we have become increasingly partisan. The first question asked was not, “What do you stand for?” but “Are you a Democrat or Republican?” And this came from both sides of the aisle.

And I am becoming increasingly nervous that we are no longer a citizenry of issues, but rather sound bites and party loyalty.

I learned that there are many wonderful people in the 3rd, folks who invited me into their homes and offered me something cold to drink on those hot days.

I learned that the citizens of the 3rd District are passionate about education and want better outcomes for our kids.

I learned that small businesses are barely hanging on, and if we don’t change our tax system, some won’t be around.

I learned that I am done with party politics.

Some may say I am a sore loser. I say it is dirty business in which I no longer wish to participate.

I learned that we really don’t value social workers as competent beyond our role of do-gooders. I can think of no other work more complicated than salvaging lives and finding resources for those in need. Yet we are viewed as unable to negotiate the “complicated” tasks of a legislator.

I learned that some thought it was about me. “Now your name is out there.” And that’s what made me the saddest. Because it was never about me, but about making life better for my fellow citizens in the 3rd, the people I serve every day, and will continue to serve. I had hoped to represent them at a different level. But it was not in the plan.

I learned about wonderful supporters who believed in me and my view of changing the world. And I thank all those who supported me and voted for me from the bottom of my heart. It was a great ride.

Finally, I learned once again that money matters. Candidates run to serve, not to dial for dollars. The cost of campaigns is becoming obscene and I fear that soon elections will be priced beyond ordinary citizens’ resources to run. Do we really want our elections bought and paid for by those who have? The money that has been raised in the 6th District Senate race ($479,000 to date for a position that pays $42,000 a year) would fund the operations of Our Place Community Ministries for more than two years.

So, when we talk about not having money, we need to reframe that statement. We have money for what matters to us. The same money proposed for the new jail could pay tuition for 76,000 students to attend Spokane Community Colleges for a year. But I digress.

Politics is like a game of Monopoly. At the end of the day, whoever has the most money wins. And I am sure that come November, this will “play” out in the election results. So, I am getting out of the game. I never did like Monopoly.

Louise Chadez, a Democratic candidate for the Washington state House of Representatives in the 3rd District, was defeated in Tuesday’s primary election. She is a licensed social worker who works as a mental health counselor at Spokane Addictions Recovery Center.

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