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Not fit to a tea
The group formed in June 2009 and has grown to more than 350 people who call themselves patriots and continue to increase awareness on issues and group visibility.
“A majority of our group has never been political before,” said Pat Tenhulzen.
“People are educating themselves furiously.”
Local patriots represent Republicans, Democrats and independents, said Jack Tenhulzen.
“We’re not party specific. The issues we talk about cross over party lines,” he said.
Voicing on Thursday
The group is emphasizing fiscal responsibility for all governments with a peaceful assembly on tax day, Thursday, April 15, at the corners of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue.
Assemblies, writing letters to politicians and newspapers and holding forums for potential candidates are some ways Concerned Citizens educates people on issues.
“People feel they aren’t being responded to,” said Bill Paulbitski.
“They, more times than not, get canned responses (from politicians). That’s been the genesis for many of us who are unsettled by federal, state and local governments.”
“We formed because we are being represented by our ‘nonrepresentatives,’” Paulbitski said.
Tea Party movement
National media has drawn attention to the Tea Party Movement, but Concerned Citizens say it isn’t one in the same.
“We took a more independent standpoint because we have much more knowledgeable and creative people in the area,” Jack Tenhulzen said.
“We’re very bottom up. We take central ideas and apply it more specifically to Clallam County.”
His wife said the group purposefully keeps a positive demeanor to better educate people rather than turn them away.
During an assembly, she met a teenage boy hanging up 8.5- by 11-inch posters of President Obama’s face drawn like a joker.
“Maybe you don’t agree but you have to honor the position of president,” she said.
He understood and gave the posters to her.
“Part of our job is education, lots of conversation and meeting new people,” Jack Tenhulzen said.
A few ex-patriots felt the group wasn’t asserting itself enough and recommended a more militant approach.
They left the group.
Taxes take center stage in many Concerned Citizens’ discussions.
Concerned Citizens of Clallam County rallied at Sequim Avenue and Washington Street last Nov. 14 to speak out on a number of issues. This Thursday, “tax day,” they’ll assemble to call for more accountable government spending. Sequim Gazette photo by Mike Dashiell
“(Our fiscal standing) got to its current state now because of gradual erosion. It’s not something that happened overnight,” Jack Tenhulzen said.
“People take an active role when it hits their pocket book.”
The Tenhulzens believe citizens and small-business owners are the ones taking the hit from irresponsible government spending.
Pat Tenhulzen said many business owners are putting part of their operations and hiring on the shelf because they cannot afford upgrades and restocking due to over-taxation.
“There’s no money from the taxpayer for the government. There’s also no money for the products people use,” she said.
“They can’t buy a new car or furniture or whatever. Nothing gets sold.”
Potential builders and business owners are deterred from Clallam County and Sequim because of taxes, too, Paulbitski said.
In a discussion with a prospective builder, he asked, “Why aren’t you building a plant here? Is it labor? ‘No.’ Is it environmental? ‘No. It’s taxes.’”
Concerned Citizens believes Washington’s fiscal trouble is cause for alarm.
“Our state is almost bankrupt. Five years ago, there was $900 million in surplus, and (the state) blew through it,” Jack Tenhulzen said.
“The largest employer in Washington is the state of Washington so if it doesn’t have the money, then where does it come from?”
“Affordable living is very difficult for many in the Sequim area,” Pat Tenhulzen said.
Locally, impact fees on new housing starts are an example with nearly 200 starts in 2008 but only 11 in 2009, Jack Tenhulzen said.
Poor dialogue between politicians and constituents is an issue Concerned Citizens wants to rectify.
“It’s a struggle in Olympia and more so in Washington, D.C. They talk to each other rather than constituents,” Pat Tenhulzen said.
“A lot of them have no idea who their constituents are.”
No endorsements yet
“It’d be better if we got closer to the statesmanship of our founding fathers and away from career politicians,” her husband said.
Concerned Citizens does endorse candidates but not until after the primary.
They have interviewed five candidates running for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s seat and intend to host a forum in the near future in Sequim.
“Our residents feel honored that these candidates will come to Sequim,” Pat Tenhulzen said.
They’ve encouraged some potential candidates to run for office, but none have committed yet.
“What we do is sacrifice time away from family and businesses. Some of our opponents see it as a way of life,” Paulbitski said.
“It’d be hard to stay objective after such a long time in office. Mr. Smith went (to Washington) and then came back to the farm.”
So much concern, so many citizens
Washington state is rife with citizens concerned about all manner of things.
The first 100 of 56,700 Google hits for “Concerned Citizens” and “WA” turned up these groups:
■ Bradford County Concerned Citizens, a Tea Party affiliate
■ Coalition of Concerned Citizens, listed among divorce and custody resources in Seattle
■ Concerned Citizens Against Mike Wojcik, a Rochester city council candidate
■ Concerned Citizens for a Better America in Seattle, which posts billboards with patriotic messages
■ Concerned Citizens for Legal Accountability, formed to investigate allegations of a so-called sex ring in Wenatchee
■ Concerned Citizens for Special Children, of Forks, a group for parents of persons with developmentally disabilities
■ Concerned Citizens for Steilacoom School District, support group for levy
■ Concerned Citizens of Hockinson Neighborhood Association, Clark County
■ Concerned Citizens of Tacoma for Darfur
■ Concerned Citizens, a group for people who live along the North Fork Lewis River near Woodland
■ Concerned Citizens, Port Hadlock, purpose not stated
■ Orchards Concerned Citizens, Vancouver, purpose not stated
■ Concerned Citizens in Action, Washougal, a government-accountability group
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.