RICHLAND -- Richard Heath wanted his daughter Hailey to be educated politically, so he brought her to the rally organized Sunday by the Tri-Cities Tea Party at Richland's John Dam Plaza.
And she was impressed by what she heard from various candidates running for elected offices. The candidates were invited by the Tri-Cities Tea Party to talk about themselves and what they stand for, to help voters make an informed decision in the November general election.
"It's about lowering taxes for a better future for the kids," said Hailey, 17. The take-home message for her father was the need to return to limited government as set forth in the U.S. Constitution. "I'm a constitutionalist," Richard said.
The Kennewick father and daughter were among an estimated 400 Tri-Citians who listened to candidates including state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders, Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, and former U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier of Eltopia, among others.
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The event was open to all candidates regardless of political party, and to nonpartisan judicial candidates.
The speakers talked about the need to preserve the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and curb government spending.
"This will be the most important election of your life time, " said Jerry Martin, president of the Tri-Cities Tea Party, reminding those present to help bring a change. The tea party movement largely stands for fiscal responsibility, limited government, free markets and local grassroots civic engagement.
Martin called out certain battles that are coming up for concerned voters, such as card check legislation that would makes it easier for labor unions to organize; cap and trade bill that would allow federal government to set up a cap on carbon emissions and require companies to buy and sell permits for emission allowances; and a possible amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Already the U.S. debt is about $13.5 trillion and growing, he said.
Good weather, the Parade of Homes and the Seattle Seahawks' game may have kept away people away from the rally, he said. "We were expecting about 500 people."
Crowds at the rally included friends and families of those running for public offices, and many others like the Kubinskis of Richland clamoring for "a better change."
"We have given away everything. The government is spending way too much trying to buy votes," said Alayne and Jerry Kubinski, who came to the rally to show their support.
It's not the government's job to take money from some and give it to someone else, said the Kubinskis, both retired Hanford workers.
"Stick to your birthrights, otherwise someone else will make decisions for you," Alayne said. It's critical to be an informed voter, she said, adding she'll vote Republican.
Politicians tout what they do for their districts, but forget to look out for the country, Jerry said.
Kelin Ray of Pasco said he thinks it's time voters helped take the country back from politicians.
"Republicans and Democrats are the two sides of the same coin," he said. He said he wants to help shrink the government because spending is out of control.
"We need to uphold the Constitution as many of our freedoms, including free speech, is in danger," Ray said. He said he recently heard that the singing of the national anthem was disallowed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, because it's considered a neutral zone.
That's not acceptable said Ray, a state corrections officer. He said it's about taking America back, echoing the sentiments of the speakers and the listeners at the rally.