When Ben Nassif of Bellevue asked Senator Maria Cantwell to look him in the eye and tell him Social Security would still be around when he was eligible, she stepped toward him, looked him in the eye, and shook his hand.
Cantwell made a campaign stop at the Issaquah Coffee Company on Friday, Nov. 2, to show support for Mark Mullet, who is in a contentious race for state Senate against, Brad Toft, in District 5.
Cantwell packed the coffee shop with supporters of both candidates, and other notable locals, including Sammamish Mayor Tom Odell, Issaquah City Council members Fred Butler and Paul Winterstein, Sammamish city council member Don Gerend and Mullet.
Cantwell said she was supporting Mullet, who owns the Zeek’s Pizza shop and Ben and Jerry’s in Issaquah, because another businessman is needed in Olympia.
“I’m here today to support small businesses,” Cantwell said.
Before Mullet formally introduced the senator, he spoke of his own experience on the Issaquah City Council, and operating a small business in the community.
“I get a good understanding of what’s happening in the city,” he said.
As far as Cantwell — who he’d never met — stopping in to campaign for him, he said, “This is very cool.”
Cantwell said the race between Mullet and Toft might be one of the closest in the state. Cantwell went on to say that the state needs someone like Mullet, not someone extreme.
“We need someone like Mark, someone who has created jobs — to fight the extremism of the Tea Party,” she said.
Cantwell spoke of her familiarity with Eastside issues from her days in Olympia, emphasizing transportation, infrastructure and smart growth. She said education of the work force is priority, so accessibility to higher education is critical.
“Boeing needs 20,000 new aerospace workers over the next 10 years,” she said. “We need to stay competitive in the aerospace industry.”
She also supports more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), for K-12.
Speaking on the importance of getting out to vote, she told an amusing story about when she was growing up, how her dad always made sure she stayed home on election day so she could get an education by watching the process. She visited one of her neighbors one election day, a woman who lived alone, and learned that the woman hadn’t voted. Cantwell ran frantically back home and told her dad, because she was worried the woman would be arrested.
The question of infrastructure came up from one resident, a timely topic in the wake of hurricane Sandy. Cantwell supports an initiative called Weather Ready Nation, and building a smarter electricity grid. Weather Ready would empower first responders, government officials, businesses and the public to make fast, smart decisions by knowing in advance what’s coming, in order to save lives and livelihoods.
According to the National Weather Service web site, “between now and the Spring of 2013, the entire fleet of Weather Surveillance Radar, is scheduled for a major software and hardware upgrade. This upgrade, or dual-polarization technology, will greatly enhance these radars by providing the ability to collect data on the horizontal and vertical properties of weather and non-weather targets.”
Cantwell said with I-90 slicing through the middle of Issaquah, it’s important to be prepared because storms and the destruction they leave, end up costing billions of dollars.
Cantwell lingered and visited with her welcoming supporters. Don Klusman, a marketing consultant from Kirkland made the drive just to meet the senator and shake her hand.
“I think she does good work,” Klusman said. “She’s smart and with her high-tech background it’s nice to have someone with that experience.”
Long-time Issaquah residents Christina Bruning and Jeff Tanka came out because “we just like to be informed citizens.”
Cantwell is running for a third-term against Republican Michael Baumgartner, a freshman state senator from Spokane.