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Delegates head to Boston

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Ramona Brandes is someone who might be characterized as active or involved, but her scope of work didn’t extend to politics until recently.

Brandes is an attorney with the Northwest Defenders Association and a member of the Service Employees International Union Local 925. She’s a member of the Washington Defender Association and the Washington Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers. She’s been a youth basketball coach, an income tax assistance volunteer, a Girl Scout leader and a foster parent. She’s testified before the Legislature on drug treatment programs and lobbied the city of Seattle to maintain quality-control standards for public defense.

But, by her own admission, she was never that involved in politics. She stumbled into political action during labor negotiations, after the president of the union encouraged her to attend her precinct caucus. That first step at the precinct caucus, where she volunteered to be a delegate for Howard Dean in his failed run for the presidency, led her all the way to the Democrats’ national convention in Boston, Mass. this weekend.

Her participation in the union proved serendipitous at the King County caucus. The union had been pushing for healthcare and insurance for everyone, and Brandes offered the same idea as a plank for the Democratic platform. She made copies and passed her suggestion out to other precincts — she found a photocopier would be indispensable in her run as a delegate — and other Democrats liked it. It made it to the legislative district, where “it was the first plank that was read,” she said. Officials called her up to read it in front of the district. “I got a lot of face time,” she said.

Convincing her cohorts to choose her for the congressional district — the last stop before the national convention — was an act of campaigning not unlike what the candidates were doing on a national scale. Each delegate candidate got to stump for three minutes. Brandes talked about how Dean’s message and enthusiasm galvanized her to get involved. “To do what he’s done in the political realm ... I’m speechless,” she said. “He brought people into the political process who felt disenfranchised and ambivalent about politics.”

She also expressed her opinions about changing the current administration. “I was the most boisterous of the group,” she said. “I said I wanted to give Bush a one-way

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