By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog
PORTLAND — Someone needs to step up and ensure the adrenaline of elections, which can be fast fleeting, transitions into real reform and change, says a Washington-based free market research and information organization.
“Often times it dissipates almost literally overnight on election night,” said Trent England, vice president of policy at the Freedom Foundation, a nonpartisan group that works to inform voters on the issues. That’s why the Freedom Foundation is going around the state of Washington starting Nov. 7 with the goal of keeping the reform fires burning.
The Freedom Foundation is hosting a Free WA Tour: Post Election 2012 for Washington residents to find out what the election means to them, and to “keep people’s eye on the ball,” England said.
The tour will hit 34 communities from Nov. 7-10 with experts from the organization sent out to talk about how the election will impact the state budget and legislation moving forward.
The events are similar to a tour the Freedom Foundation held in March near the end of the Washington legislative session. The goal then was to get people up to date on how the legislative issues would carry into the elections, England said.
Pat Tarzwell,of Shelton, attended one of the spring events and said he plans to head to one after the election as well.
“It’s too valuable not to,” he said. “Their policy information and their data on budgets is just fantastic. They dig down into the minutia of what’s going on,” he said, adding he doesn’t have time on his own to research that.
Tarzwell, the Republican chairman of the 35th legislative district, said he appreciates the information from a nonpartisan perspective. He acknowledged the Freedom Foundation has a conservative edge with their free market and government accountability standpoints, but said the information they provide is unbiased and useful no matter what your political affiliation.
“I was surprised at the number of people who I knew who were Democrats that showed up,” he said of the tour stop in Shelton in the spring. “I fully acknowledge I am biased, so if I’m listening to my counterpart in the Democratic Party, I know he’s absolutely biased. If we talk about anything, how much do you get out of that? I don’t know.”
England said the goal of the four-day event is to get people talking about what happens next.
“Frankly whether the Democrats maintain control or the Republicans take control there are going to be discussions about reform,” he said, referring to education spending and reform.
The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the state was not meeting its obligation to fund education, so changes are afoot on that front no matter which party is in office.
England said the tour is about getting voices heard in the legislature that are not paid lobbyists or special interests.
“We want to create a force of citizens,” he said.
Lynda Wilson, chairwoman of We the People Vancouver, a tea party group, said she plans to attend one of the events next month and take back what she learns to empower her group.
“We know we can’t go back to sleep,” she said. “We know we have to keep vigilant.”
Contact Shelby Sebens at Shelby@NorthwestWatchdog.org, or follow her on Twitter @ShelbySebens. For more Northwest Watchdog updates, visit Facebook and Twitter.