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J425 Readers are One Hell of a Voting Block
In this first person update, we consider the power of the growing J425 readership and reach out to local leaders in an effort to open new lines of communication
I’m going to take a quick moment here to provide a state-of-the-J425 update. Forgive me if I slip into commentary voice — as some of you may know, I wrote weekly first person political and general interest commentary for multiple years under the heading Off the Record. You can find the archives — including my column with Lake Stevens legend Chris Pratt - in the J425 archives bar above.
Fair warning, this likely won’t be the last time we run first person commentary at J425.
J425 Reaches out to Local Leadership
I spoke with Councilmember Dickinson and Mayor Gailey following the Library Board meeting and one thing I can state on behalf of the J425 is we are going to proactively seek out dialogue with City leaders so we can all better understand the vision and status of our City’s development.
Our recent reporting on the civic center/libary process may seem critical of the City. It’s not intended to. It’s just when there’s a torrent of information leading up to a decision, followed by months and months without an update —there’s really not much to work with from a journalistic point of view.
Yes we could attend every single meeting but …no actually we couldn’t. We is me, and I have other stuff going on. That’s why meetings have minutes and municipalities have newsletters, blogs websites etc. With respect to the civic center process, the City definitely showed they can keep us informed all the way through that process up until the selection of the preferred alternative on Sept. 18, 2021.
That said, if J425 had the benefit of direct personal relationships with the elected and key staff members (like I used to, as Managing Editor of the Lake Stevens Journal, before I moved out of the area for multiple years) then we may have been able to better inform our readership of the actual state of affairs at the City, as opposed to the state of affairs reflected on a static website. So the J425 is going to reach out and attempt to form those relationships.
As someone who spent six years staffing elected officials at the state and county level, I know for a fact that our leaders work hard, they work up against and through impossible bureaucratic barriers, they’re forced to deal with ever-changing political realties and unforeseen issues that pop up out of nowhere. It’s impossible to understand any of this without messaging.
J425 Readers are a Powerful Group
Now that the J425 is well over a thousand voluntary subscribers inside the Lake Stevens School District boundaries, I feel the publication has a duty to both provide up to date information to this readership — but even more so to advocate on your (the readers’) behalf for transparency and updates.
Listen. A thousand adults inside Lake Stevens is a hell of a voting block.
That means you have power. By leveraging the network effect of the one thing you all share — a love for this place — we can all exponentially increase our ability to help deliver a better tomorrow for Lake Stevens.
And as I’ve said from day one, this is a reader-supported endeavor. As of today, the J425 is 14 months old. As we told you last year, the J425 was selected for LION membership (Local Indepedent Online Newspapers). I didn’t give this much shrift last year, but I’ve since realized what an honor that was.
Basically J425 is in a cohort of entrepreneurs who are attempting to reboot local journalism through a variety of new methods. The sponsors at LION (Meta, Google and a series of University journalism schools, among others) liked the J425’s bubble-gum and duct-taped approach at community-supported journalism enough to bring us onboard, giving us access to important resources like libel insurance and legal representation, among other things. In return, I have a duty to vet this model to the best of my ability and to represent my backers — the readership.
As far as Lake Stevens goes, I texted Mayor Gailey and asked to buy him a coffee. It’s my hope that we can meet, get to know each other, and open up an informal dialogue that will allow the J425 to help carry the City’s message and vision to our growing readership. I also checked in with Lake Stevens resident and State-elected official Steve Hobbs, more on that below.
If there’s one thing that I know we all agree on, it’s a love for our hometown. And if there’s one thing that all of us will mutually benefit from (all of us = the J425, the readership, the City, etc) it’s open lines of communication, running in all directions.
Lake Stevens Joins the 39th LD
So in the spirit of better informing you, valued reader, …in addition to hitting the Library Board yesterday, I attended the Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum last night.
In attending the Chamber’s candidate forum (I’ve been to countless), I found myself noticing a different vibe in the air. A different flavor of political fare. To be direct I was reminded more of the political attitudes present when I was living in Kettle Falls, 100 miles north of Spokane as opposed to the typical Lake Stevens area political event.
It was then that I remembered that Lake Stevens is no longer part of the 44th LD — a largely blue state district typically represented entirely by Democrats, with the rare exception.
Nope, for whatever reason the minds behind redistricting decided to lasso Lake Stevens into the gargantuan 39th LD, which runs north of Mt. Vernon and east to the Cascade crest. I’ve included a large map at the top of this post.
The 39th is one of the reddest districts west of the Cascades. So for Lake Stevens residents, just prepare yourself to meet some spirited neighbors from the north should you venture to a similar event in the near future.
The Secretary Expects a Tight Race
We’ll wait and see how November shakes out before reaching out to the state elected that were on hand at the candidate forum (that Robert Sutherland sure has enthusiastic supporters).
I spoke to Lake Stevens resident (and my former boss) Steve Hobbs yesterday. Err should I say Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. The Lake Stevens High School graduate is locked in a tight race to retain his statewide office. He’s running for the right to serve the rest of the former Secretary of State’s term. Hobbs was appointed to fill the position last year after his predecessor left for a job in DC. If Hobbs retains the job next month, he’ll be up again in Nov. 2023, seeking a full four year term.
We’ll have more on that in the days that come. Ballots were mailed yesterday.