Tonight, right wing Republicans from around Washington will be gathering at multimillionaire Brian Heywood’s Willowcrest Stables property just outside of the corporate boundary of Redmond, Washington for what they’re billing a “Summer Freedom Fest” — really a large evening picnic with lots of anti-tax rhetoric, candidate speeches, food trucks, and musical performances.
The Washington State Republican Party, King County Republican Party, and other Republican groups are all official sponsors of this shindig, as you can see from the event flyer, so it is very much a party gathering. Speakers will include Dave Reichert, Semi Bird, and Raul Garcia, who are all running for statewide office, along with right wing media personalities John Carlson and Brandi Kruse. And NPI understands there will be a number of additional unadvertised speakers as well.
Former initiative promoter Tim Eyman thinks this event is so important that he sent out not one, not two, but three invitations to his list urging people to come.
“This week, I sent out two updates about this event. I’m sending it again just so to make sure everyone sees it. Hope to see you there,” Eyman wrote, adding that for him and his daughter Riley, who helped him campaign in 2020, “Saturday will be like going to Woodstock in the 60’s” because “politics is in our blood.”
Redmond is the Northwest Progressive Institute’s hometown and has been our headquarters for the entirety of our twenty-year history. When NPI was founded, the Eastside was still considered a very Republican area and Redmond was represented in the Legislature and on the King County Council by Republicans. Parts of the Eastside were also represented in Congress by Republicans.
That has now changed. Redmond and East King County are now represented by only Democrats at the county, state, and federal levels. Sarah Perry and Claudia Balducci are our King County Councilmembers. Manka Dhingra (a Northwest Progressive Foundation boardmember), Patty Kuderer, Larry Springer, Roger Goodman, Vandana Slatter, and Amy Walen are our state legislators. And Suzan DelBene, Adam Smith, and Kim Schrier are our representatives in the U.S. House.
For the benefit of those unfamiliar with who we are and what our values are (especially Republicans coming to town tonight!), here are some noteworthy facts about Redmond, its voting history, and its political identity.
- Redmond is located on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples. Nearby is the Snoqualmie Tribe’s reservation. The Snoqualmie Tribe obtained its federal recognition shortly before the new millennium. Learn more about the Tribe and its history here.
- The City of Redmond incorporated in 1912 and acquired its name from one of the first European settlers to build a home here — Luke McRedmond, who arrived in 1871. The Redmond Historical Society maintains a page where you can read about the early years of Redmond on their website.
- Redmond could have just as easily been named “Perrigo,” after another one of its early European immigrants. Perrigo Park, where NPI holds its annual Summer Anniversary Picnic, is named in honor of the Perrigo family.
- Redmond’s nickname is the “Bicycle Capital of the Northwest” because we love cycling here. It’s an environmentally friendly way to get around. We have thirty-three miles of bike lanes on our streets, the only velodrome in the region at nearby Marymoor Park, and the longest running bicycle race in North America, part of our summer Derby Days celebration.
- Speaking of Derby Days, that’s been going on for more than three quarters of a century, and is traditionally held this month, in July. It includes parades, a drone show, booths, and lots of activities for kids. The city also organizes a wintertime festival in December called RedmondLights.
- Redmond is home to the eastern terminus for Sound Transit’s Line 2, the project that will bring Link light rail to the Eastside, and construction is currently underway on several stations that will serve neighborhoods in the city, including Overlake and Downtown. Light rail is a key component of the city’s sustainability-focused growth strategy.
- A supermajority of Redmond’s elected city officials identify as female, including the current mayor and five of seven members of the city council. Both candidates for mayor this year also identify as female.
- Redmond is home to one of the first Muslim women ever to be elected to any position of public responsibility in the PNW: Councilmember Varisha Khan. She is completing her first term this year and not seeking reelection. Khan was able to prevail over an entrenched incumbent who identifies as Republican even in an odd-year, low turnout election.
- 74.84% of voters in Redmond supported the Biden-Harris ticket in 2020. That’s almost three-fourths of the city’s electorate. If there’s any data point that best reflects how Democratic Redmond is, it’s probably this one.
- Similarly, other Democratic candidates do extremely well in Redmond. In 2020, Jay Inslee received 21,898 votes in Redmond, while his ultra MAGA Republican opponent Loren Culp got only 6,809 votes.
- Even former Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the last Republican to be elected to statewide office in Washington, lost in Redmond despite winning statewide. She received 11,730 votes in the 2020 presidential election in the city; her Democratic challenger Gael Tarleton, a founding NPI boardmember, received 16,163 votes.
- In 2022, Redmond again enthusiastically voted for Democrats for statewide and federal office. Democratic Senator Patty Murray earned 16,019 votes, while Tiffany Smiley managed just 5,230 votes. Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene received 16,157 votes, similarly walloping her Republican opponent Vincent J. Cavaleri, who got 4,967 votes. All of Redmond’s Democratic legislators were reelected to new terms by comfortable margins.
- In 2018, Redmond was supportive of creating a cap and invest system, voting to approve Initiative 1631, which failed statewide. (The Legislature later voted to pass a cap and invest system as part of the Climate Commitment Act). The oil industry’s well-funded opposition campaign was unable to convince a majority of voters in Redmond to vote no.
Redmond is opposed to the nasty, mean-spirited politics of division, exploitation, and bigotry that have come to epitomize the Republican Party.
Here in Redmond, we believe in freedom and mutual responsibility. We favor pooling our resources to get things done. We are an inclusive, welcoming city, striving to create a community that is friendly and safe and governed in accordance with the progressive values that America was founded upon.
In Redmond, we care about taking climate action, reproductive freedom, and looking after our most vulnerable neighbors. Equity and tolerance are important to us. Gun responsibility is important to us. LGBTQ+ rights are important to us.
Tonight, Republicans, you’ll be at the edge of a caring city of over 73,000 people that believes in creating a community of good neighbors. Welcome to Redmond, one of the most progressive and Democratic places in the Pacific Northwest.