Hello. My name is Wm. Lamont Worden. My wife Brenda and I have lived in Greenacres for over 33 years, always considering ourselves political independents. I am a retired Emergency Physician and also a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel with over 22 years of service, including as a Chinese linguist during the Viet Nam conflict and as a Family Physician during Operation Desert Storm.

The purpose of this post is to describe my personal evolution from being just an ordinary citizen, who could live down the street from you, to someone who has decided to spend his time trying to make a difference by leaving the world in a better condition for his grandchildren.

Specifically, my passionate plea is for everyone who reads this to please vote YES on Initiative I-1631.

Hopefully, you have all heard by now that this initiative would charge a FEE (NOT a TAX) of $15/ton on CO2 polluters. The difference between fees and taxes is significant because taxes are placed into a general fund that politicians in Olympia can spend as they see fit. In contrast, fees must be spent on the purpose for which they are collected. The fees assessed by I-1631 are anticipated to generate over one BILLION dollars per year for Washington State to invest in clean energy, clean water, clean air, healthy forests, and assistance to communities that have been hit hardest by pollution. This creates tens of thousands of new jobs in the clean energy of the future such as solar and wind, and much more.

I will refrain from going into further detail about the many wonderful benefits of this initiative. You can learn much more about it by simply going to https://yeson1631.org/.

Perhaps you can relate to becoming exposed to a new idea or a new activity and then becoming so interested in it that it becomes a passion occupying more and more of your time, energy, and even resources. Our youngest daughter, Joy, certainly can. When she was an eighth grader, I took her out of school for a couple of days so she could travel to downtown Spokane with me and witness her older brother, Barry, serve jury duty in a court case. The experience so captivated her interest that she later determined that she actually wanted to become a lawyer. Years later, and after her overcoming several considerable obstacles, our family is extremely proud of her employment as an attorney for the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office.

As for myself, the passion which has most recently expanded to occupy a huge amount of my attention began after the Presidential election in November 2016. I will call it political activism. Before that election, I had been enjoying a rather peaceful, sedentary retirement. Then, in late January 2017, shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, one Sunday morning, I was watching TV and saw hundreds of ordinary citizens gathered in the Portland International Airport protesting President Trump’s initial ban on Muslim immigrants. I was moved to tears by the sincerity and enthusiasm of those involved. My interest was piqued and I opened my mind up to the prospect that I could do more to demonstrate my own feelings of frustration with many of the things which I was witnessing in our country.

A little over two months later, I received a phone call from a neighbor who invited me to attend an informal gathering of others who live near us to discuss how we could be more involved in learning about and taking action on various issues. So, on April 19, 2017, my curiosity led me to join with about a dozen people at what was called a “Huddle” meeting in Liberty Lake. I only knew two people there, my friend and his wife. There were also two special representatives who had been invited to speak to us. One was Rick Lloyd, Chairman of the Democratic Party’s 4th Legislative District. The other was Lee Taylor, a representative from a progressive organization called Fuse. I left feeling grateful that I had attended that meeting.

The nidus of my activist snowball had been formed and as I attended additional meetings and met more and more interesting and inspiring fellow citizens, it simply kept gathering size and momentum. Here is a brief synopsis of my earliest activities:

  • 4/20/17: Went to Moran Prairie Public Library, Spokane’s South Hill, for a citizen organized Town Hall, where I provided public comment related to health care.
  • 4/22/17: Brenda and I made signs and took our disabled son, Spencer, and three of our grand children to the Science March at Riverfront Park in Spokane and joined hundreds of others.
  • 4/23/17: Participated in a live stream internet presentation by Bernie Sanders supporters titled “State of the Revolution”.
  • 4/28/17: Shared an Internet communication with Spokane County Democratic Party Chairman, Andrew Biviano.
  • 4/29/17: Brenda, Spencer, and I were at the People’s Climate Rally at the Tribal Gathering Place in downtown Spokane.
  • 4/30/17: Attended a Spokane County Democratic Party meeting in downtown Spokane for “Precinct Committee Officer Training” even though I did not understand what a PCO was.
  • 5/7/17: Went to my first meeting of the Valley Indivisible Progressives (V.I.P) at the Spokane Valley Library, where I was able to meet several candidates running for various political offices.
  • 5/9/17: Brenda, Spencer and I attended our first Fuse meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church in West Spokane, where I met Jim Dawson and spoke in favor of health care reform.
  • 5/17/17: 2nd Huddle Meeting, this time in a private home of another neighbor.
  •  5/24/17: Met with Spokane County Commissioner, Al French, with several Fuse members.
  • 6/4/17: 2nd Valley Indivisible Progressives meeting, where I met Lisa Brown for the first time.
  • 6/16/17: Attended a Health Care for All, Single Payer meeting at the North Spokane Library.
  • 6/20/17: Went to a Fuse meeting to Train the Trainer, as part of the Reclaim the 5th Campaign.

So, you can see by the number and frequency of the many meetings that I initially attended that my political activism had truly become a passion, but it included several areas, such as politics, health care, and the environment. It was not yet really focused.

Then, in late August 2017, matters began to fall into a certain set of priorities for me. I attended a Climate Justice Steward Meeting sponsored by Fuse, representing the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, in the Saranac Building, downtown Spokane. Jace Bylenga was the local field organizer. Fourteen people were there and as I look back at the names I recorded, at least five of them are leaders in an organization I later learned to be 350 Spokane.

My monthly Huddle and V.I.P meetings continued, as did periodic Democratic Party gatherings, but by the Fall of last year, I informed Brenda that I wanted to devote myself to primarily only 3 priorities: #1) Family, #2) Lisa Brown, and #3) The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy (AJCE). Last Fall and Winter those three matters occupied most of my time and energy.

For Lisa Brown, that meant attending training meetings and actively canvassing door to door as often as possible.

For the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, it meant attending the Martin Luther King March, the Women’s Persistence March, the St. Patrick’s Day March with 350 Spokane, the March for our Lives, and numerous meetings recruiting and training volunteers, and basically building a network prepared to begin gathering signatures on petitions, once the final wording of the initiative was negotiated among the more than 200 organizations statewide that were interested in supporting it.

On January 9, 2018, I was allowed to make a presentation to the 350 Spokane group on behalf of the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. The response was amazing. Dozens of members signed up to learn more and volunteer to support us. A few months later, co-founder, Brian Henning, actually extended an invitation to me to temporarily join the 350 Spokane Board to serve as a liaison between AJCE and 350 Spokane. I was honored to accept that position and I continue to enjoy functioning in that capacity.

Because the deadline for qualifying citizen initiatives for a November election is in early July, we were hoping to receive actual petitions by the end of February. Unfortunately, the negotiations on final wording took much longer than anticipated and we did not receive petitions until early April. We now had the new name of Initiative 1631, or I-1631, and Jacob Johns had replaced Jace as the regional organizer for all of Eastern Washington.

This account is already probably too long, so I will not bore you with the monumental task that we undertook to gather our goal of 12,000 signatures to help achieve the statewide goal of 360,000 needed to reassure us that we had the required 260,000 to qualify for the ballot. Suffice it to say, from early April until late June, dozens and dozens of dedicated volunteers spent countless hours standing out in front of retail stores, attending farmer’s markets, and gathering signatures virtually anywhere we could mingle among crowds of people, such as the Rally to Support Immigrants, the March for Science, or for consecutive three days at Bloomsday, while participants were registering and then as spectators were watching the race.

We turned in our final signatures in early July and shortly thereafter learned that the Washington State Secretary of State certified that I-1631 had qualified for the ballot.

Now, the organizing and signature gathering phases of this campaign are behind us. The more difficult phase of winning the election in November has begun in earnest. We have a new Eastern Washington Regional Organizer, Jennyfer Mesa, and we are starting to see what over 20 MILLION dollars of money already raised by the fossil fuel industry opponents to I-1631 can produce as far as negative advertising.

Please, take the time to go to the Yeson1631.org link and review the list of literally hundreds of organizations which support this history making initiative. I-1631 has more groups supporting it than any other initiative in the history of our state and the diversity is truly impressive. They include Businesses, Clean Energy and Environmental Advocates, Working Families and Unions, Low-Income Advocates, Communities of Color Organizations, Health Professionals, Faith Groups, Tribal Nations, and Civic Engagement Entities.

In contrast, the source of the vast majority of the money raised by the opponents to I-1631 is from just a handful of rich, multinational fossil fuel corporations such as Exxon-Mobil and BP.

At the Yeson1631.org link you can also find opportunities to volunteer to get involved yourself, by canvassing or phone banking. We only have a couple of weeks before this critical election. I encourage you to take a risk, like I did early in 2017, and attend a meeting.

On Tuesday, October 16, 350 Spokane and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility are co-sponsoring a showing of the documentary movie “The Ages of Consequences” at 6:30 p.m. in the Magic Lantern Theater at 25 W. Main, Spokane. This movie concerns climate change and its impact on our military defense and security. I will be offering a few remarks after the viewing and will be available for a brief question and answer session. Admission to this event is free, but there are considerable costs related to obtaining the rights to show the film and rent the theater, so we encourage a $5 (or more) donation at the door.

My involvement with the wonderful members of 350 Spokane has been so rewarding this past year that I fully plan to continue working with them on various environmentally responsible issues long after the election in November. If you want to improve our community and leave the world in a better condition for your posterity, as I do, I encourage you to check out 350 Spokane. I promise you cannot find better folks with whom to work and be associated.

Please, if you are otherwise eligible to vote, but have not yet registered, I strongly urge you to do so, because October 8 is the deadline for mail-in or online voter registration for the upcoming election on November 6. You can go to https://weiapplets.sos.wa.gov/myvoteolvr/myvoteolvr to complete your online voter registration.

You can still register to vote in person up until October 29. To do so, visit the Spokane County Elections Office at 1033 W Gardner Ave Spokane, WA 99260 or call them at (509) 477-2320 TDD/TTY: (509) 477-2333 for additional information.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.