News

FWay goes for Kerry

By ELIZABETH CIEPIELA

Staff writer

Saturday’s presidential caucuses in the Federal Way area ended with U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts the clear winner.

Preliminary results from the caucus at Lakota Middle School show 45 percent of voters supported Kerry, with Howard Dean coming in second at 39 percent. With 284 registered participants, that breaks down to 129 Kerry supporters and 112 Dean supporters.

The preliminary results for the 30th Congressional District indicate even more support for the man who has emerged nationally as the frontrunner for the Democrats’ nomination: 53 percent of voters backed Kerry, while 27 percent supported Dean.

And while many at the Lakota caucus were divided in their loyalties toward the Democratic presidential candidates, they did agree on one thing: The current president has got to go.

Highline Community College student Kyle Drosdick, 20, was one of the few younger people at the caucus. He identifies himself as a Democrat, but he said that could change.

“I’m open to the idea that a (political) party is just a blip on the radar,” Drosdick said. “I don’t feel like party affiliation is something you have to stick with your whole life.”

Right now, he said, the Democratic Party’s platform matches his own concerns — those of finding a job and securing healthcare.

His wariness of the Republican Party and the Patriot Act helped cement his political preference.

“Privacy is another issue,” Drosdick said. “The Patriot Act — that’s wrong. You can’t have a free and open society (under the act).”

Right now he favors Dean, but concedes the chances are slim Dean will become the Democratic presidential nominee.

For Kimberly Davis, a Federal Way mother, computer programmer and wife of an Army veteran, the Saturday caucus was her first.

“I wanted to really get involved this time. Anything I can do to get rid of Bush,” Davis said.

“Typically I vote for whoever I feel is right. I’ll vote across party lines. But if I have to register as a Democrat to vote for Kerry, I will. The economy is very important to me. And what I like about Kerry is where he stands on the veterans (rights),” Davis said.

She explained that her husband, a Gulf War veteran, had to fight to receive the disability and pension he had been promised.

State Sen. Tracey Eide was at the Lakota caucus, rallying the crowd.

“This is where I started, right here,” Eide told them. “This is democracy at its greatest.”

Privately, Eide later said she’s whittled her personal choice for president down to either Kerry or John Edwards.

Seventeen-year-old Heather Comito said she attended because she wanted to get a feel for what a caucus was like. She plans to attend the Republican caucus later this year, too.

“It decides the future of our country,” Comito said. “If you are not involved, you put it in somebody else’s hands.”

She explained she will be 18 by the time the presidential election rolls around In November, and she wants to make an informed choice.

New Zealand-born Kathleen Boyle, a Democrat since 1982, said Democrats “are ordinary people. They’re inclusive of everybody.”

Boyle said she’s leaning toward Kerry. “He’s got he best chance of beating (President Bush),” she said. “He’s believable. When he speaks, you believe him. He’s calm.”

When time came to advocate their presidential choices, one caucus participant encouraged support for Dean.

“I saw Howard Dean, and I thought, ‘Praise God, we have got a candidate who can speak the truth,’” the woman said. “He stood up against this war when he knew he had a presidential candidacy in front of him.”

Caucus chairman Andrew Boike supported Kerry.

“This man came from a privileged background, I will be honest about that,” Boike said. But, Boike added, Kerry is a unifier rather than a polarizer.

“We need a candidate who will beat George W. Bush,” Bolke said.

The crowd loved it and cheered.

Two others advocated support for Wesley Clarke and Dennis Kucinich.

Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565, eciepiela@fedwaymiriror.com

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