State Rep.-elect Mike Chapman and Clallam County Progressives member Chanda Mast advocated party unity at the Clallam County Democrats’ reorganization meeting at Jefferson School in Port Angeles on Dec. 3. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)

State Rep.-elect Mike Chapman and Clallam County Progressives member Chanda Mast advocated party unity at the Clallam County Democrats’ reorganization meeting at Jefferson School in Port Angeles on Dec. 3. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)

Democrats regroup after presidential election

By Diane Urbani de la Paz

For Peninsula Daily News

After a widespread Republican victory and the election of Donald Trump to the White House, disappointed Democrats on the North Olympic Peninsula are looking for reasons to hope.

They are finding those reasons — in young people, in new faces and in big gatherings in Port Angeles and Chimacum last weekend.

“This is a larger turnout than expected,” said Bruce Cowan, chair of Jefferson County Democrats for the past two years. He spoke to a crowd of more than 200 at Chimacum High School last Sunday as the local party held its reorganization meeting.

In both Clallam and Jefferson counties, Democrats were deeply divided between supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and of Hillary Clinton, and at the Dec. 4 meeting and at the Clallam County Democrats’ reorganization meeting Dec. 3 at Jefferson School in Port Angeles, leaders acknowledged this.

“This is a great day. It’s a chance to unify … and move forward,” said Mike Chapman, Clallam County commissioner and Port Angeles Democrat newly elected to the state House of Representatives’ 24th District seat, which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Chapman addressed a full house, with 119 Democrats signed in — including 43 new members — at the Clallam meeting.

In both communities, attendees said they’ve been coping with shock and deep disappointment since Trump’s election Nov. 8.

Jami Stutz, 24, of Sequim said one way of coping was to shut off her social media for about two weeks following Election Day.

She’s come back gradually and decided to attend Saturday’s Clallam County Democrats gathering. Her mother, Chanda Masta, is a member of the Clallam County Progressives who, like Stutz, supported Sanders.

“Come to my meeting,” Masta told her daughter. “We can’t just bow down.”

Meggan Uecker, 40, of Port Angeles likewise has no plans to give up; instead, she’s energized — in part by her social media contacts. Platforms such as Facebook are beginning to show her that “there are many people interested in coming together … to work for social justice.”

On Saturday, at her first Clallam County Democrats meeting, Uecker said she’s “personally inspired” — though all is not sunny.

“I’m still connected with people in that numb state, people who are overwhelmed,” she said. Uecker herself “felt the whole world shift” on the night of Trump’s election.

Through history, those who have worked for social justice have had to fight and suffer, she added. It feels to Uecker like it’s time for her to step up as well.

“We need more people to show up, everywhere. Show up. Speak your mind,” she said. And run for office: Uecker wants to see more women on city councils and county commissions, to start. It’s not out of the question for her to run, though she works full time and is mother to two young children.

Robin Ornelas, 73, of Port Townsend said she continues to be “upset, disappointed and fearful of what’s going to happen in the next four years.” Yet she came to the Jefferson County Democrats meeting and praised the party’s longtime local leaders, including Dave and Jeanette Woodruff and Bob and Sue Marett.

Janet Aubin, 31, of Chimacum was another strong supporter of Sanders, spending hours making phone calls for him and donating to his campaign.

“There is no silver lining to Trump’s victory,” Aubin said.

“But I have found, in myself, motivation to stand up and work for community issues.

“I want to have candidates put forward on the local level and national level,” she added, “who really work for the people.”

Matt Sircely, 40, of Port Townsend paused for several moments when asked about his state of mind.

“It’s a tough time to be hopeful,” he said. Yet “I get a lot of hope from the young people. I get a lot of hope from the new people coming into the process.” He paused again before saying, “I’m an optimist.”

Sequim precinct officer Ron Munro, 65, shares that feeling.

“Looking at the people younger than me” gives him hope, he said, adding that “elections tend to be cyclical. They swing back and forth.”

“There is no alternative but to have hope,” Nina Richards, 72, said at the Clallam Democrats’ meeting.

Her husband, Ron Richards, a candidate for the Clallam County Board of Commissioners, was among the Democrats who lost in November; Randy Johnson, who stated no party preference, won the seat as it was vacated by Chapman.

“I think time is a healer,” Nina said.

“As time passes, I believe I will recover my hope and my belief in our democracy.”

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Angeles.

Janet Aubin, left, talks with LuAnn Rogers at the Jefferson County Democrats’ reorganization meeting at Chimacum High School last Sunday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)

Janet Aubin, left, talks with LuAnn Rogers at the Jefferson County Democrats’ reorganization meeting at Chimacum High School last Sunday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)

Matt Sircely of Port Townsend was among more than 200 at the Jefferson County Democrats’ reorganization meeting at Chimacum High School last Sunday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)

Matt Sircely of Port Townsend was among more than 200 at the Jefferson County Democrats’ reorganization meeting at Chimacum High School last Sunday. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/For Peninsula Daily News)

More in News

Print edition available today, e-edition only this Wednesday

Peninsula Daily News has a print edition available to… Continue reading

Port Angeles High School graduates, from left, Uri Crawford, Samantha Combs and Jordan McTear, decorate a vehicle in preparation for Friday’s graduation parade from Ediz Hook to the high school. Dozens of adorned cars and trucks carried grads through the streets of Port Angeles as a lead-up to the graduation ceremony that evening at Civic Field. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Congrats, grads!

Port Angeles High School graduates, from left, Uri Crawford, Samantha Combs and… Continue reading

Dash Air to leave Port Angeles

‘Nothing to do’ with viability of air service, owner says

Clallam County art barn to get new roof before fair

Commissioners approve $85,000 contract with company from Kent

Sequim schools drop proposal to bump back start time

Survey respondents prefer to keep Greywolf Elementary at 8:30 a.m.

Sequim chamber to host tax credit event

The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce will host a family… Continue reading

Scheduled Hood Canal bridge closures canceled

Overnight closures of the Hood Canal bridge on state Highway… Continue reading

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Three-year-old Archie Hanson takes a spin on a merry-go-round pushed by his mother, Justine Hanson of Port Angeles, with sister Arlene Hanson 7 months, during Sunday's grand reopening of the Dream Playground at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles. The playground was rebuilt earlier this month by volunteers after an arson fire destroyed much of the playground equipment in December. Although there are still details to attend to and minor adjustments to be made, the facility will be open daily from dawn until dusk.
Grand reopening at Dream Playground

Three-year-old Archie Hanson takes a spin on a merry-go-round pushed by his… Continue reading

Wind returns for Day 3 of Race to Alaska

Teams pushing north along Vancouver Island

Port Townsend pool on track to open in July

Task force favors Chimacum Park for replacement