A Review of the 7th Legislative District

by Ellen Miller

My immersion in Democratic politics in Eastern Washington's 7th Legislative District began when my husband, Jack Miller, was asked to run for the State Representative position against Bob Sump seven years ago and continued through my two year term as Chair of the 7th (2007-2008). In those seven years Jack and I learned a great deal. We discovered the amazing diversity of the 7th and we met so many supportive people - most whom thought they were the only Democrats in their area. It was great to see how many of us there really are and to establish contact with each other. We don't need to feel alone - because we aren't!

The biggest challenge that I observed during Jack's two campaigns was attempting to bring a shared purpose to those of us committed to Democratic values and goals. There was hardly any awareness of what the 7th LD actually was and why having a Democratic candidate was important. We frequently heard the question "What is the 7th and why is it important anyway?" Since legislative districts are based on population, our rural area which covers over 12,000 square miles (Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, and Stevens Counties plus parts of Okanogan and Spokane Counties), is geographically the largest legislative district in Washington State. This distance creates huge barriers to easy communication and to our ability to work effectively together for a common purpose - getting good Democrats elected.

When Jack decided not to run a third time, I wanted to return something to the people who offered Jack their support during his campaigns, and to help build a stronger network for future candidates to run successful campaigns. When I was elected Chair of the 7th the two tasks that I thought would help were the creation of a website and the writing of a monthly newsletter. The website would provide a "go-to" place for a calendar of activities and information as well as links to other related Democratic sites. The newsletter would create a reliable communication tool to help all of us stay in contact. Sending the newsletter out to everyone on the 7th LD's email list would help maintain a connection among all of us. I still believe that establishing and maintaining a foundation is important and that it has value in encouraging potential candidates by providing a common link that can be used to support their campaigns.

We have made significant progress in the past few years with an increase in Democratic votes resulting in the success of local candidates such as Pend Oreille County's own Di Wear. However we all know that we still have a way to go to reach our goal of getting more State representation of Eastern Washington Democratic values, but it is a hopeful time. All that is needed is a commitment to working together to help get more good Democrats elected here in Eastern Washington. Thank you for all that you are doing to help reach this goal!

Ellen Miller