Letter: Editorial about PCOs was off base

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For more than 100 years, Washingtonians have elected precinct committee officers, grass-roots officials who organize the state’s political parties, educate voters, and prevent corruption from party bosses. Sadly, in a Jan. 4 editorial, “Not on public’s dime,” The Columbian criticized our united lawsuit to stop Secretary of State Sam Reed from abolishing PCO elections without looking at the full scope of the issue.

This newspaper argues the state should abolish PCO elections because parties are private institutions on par with classic-car clubs or the rose pruners’ auxiliary. False. Political parties are part of our elections and governance — referenced 10 times in our Constitution and over 150 times in statute. Classic-car clubs and rose pruners — examples used in the editorial — are never mentioned, as they play no role in selecting party nominees or elected officials.

Furthermore, while a federal court ruled that the current method for holding PCO elections is unconstitutional, the laws requiring the state to conduct these elections remain in place. In December, Reed overstepped his authority by adopting rules abolishing these elections. Our Constitution prohibits the executive branch from overriding state law.

Losing PCOs would be a loss for transparency, accountability, and good government. As the chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, we stand ready to work with Reed to find a constitutional method for preserving these crucial elections.

Dwight Pelz

Seattle

Kirby Wilbur

Bellevue