Beautiful table with Thanksgiving food
Beautiful table with Thanksgiving food

Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing, everyone!

Since World War II, when Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt and Con­gress agreed on a date, Amer­i­cans have gath­ered on the fourth Thurs­day of Novem­ber to cel­e­brate the bless­ings of the year and express grat­i­tude for boun­ti­ful harvests.

The hol­i­day actu­al­ly dates all the way back to the 1500s, when some of the first Euro­peans to reach North Amer­i­ca gave thanks for what they had. The first Thanks­giv­ing in what is now the Unit­ed States is thought by many his­to­ri­ans to have been cel­e­brat­ed by the Span­ish at St. Augus­tine, Flori­da, in 1565. There were also Thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tions in Vir­ginia in 1619, two years before the Pil­grims and the Wampanoag Native Amer­i­cans com­mem­o­rat­ed the often-depict­ed life­sav­ing har­vest at Ply­mouth Plan­ta­tion in Massachusetts.

Abra­ham Lin­coln made use of both Thanks­giv­ing, in the 1860s large­ly cel­e­brat­ed north of the Mason-Dixon Line, espe­cial­ly with­in New Eng­land, and Christ­mas, cel­e­brat­ed large­ly to the south, toward fur­ther unit­ing the nation. That, in turn, ini­ti­at­ed the change in mean­ing for Thanks­giv­ing, even­tu­al­ly pro­vid­ing room to dis­cuss in pub­lic the suf­fer­ing of Native Amer­i­cans over the centuries.

“We are tru­ly a good Nation because we are a good peo­ple — the First Lady and I see it every time we trav­el the coun­try because we meet so many incred­i­ble peo­ple doing the most extra­or­di­nary things,” Pres­i­dent Biden’s 2023 Thanks­giv­ing Day Procla­ma­tion declares. “We have met with ser­vice mem­bers, vet­er­ans, and their fam­i­lies, who have self­less­ly served and sac­ri­ficed for our country.”

“We have wit­nessed the resolve of fire­fight­ers, police offi­cers, and first respon­ders, who risk their lives every day to pro­tect us. We have seen the best of our char­ac­ter in the doc­tors, nurs­es, sci­en­tists, pub­lic ser­vants, union work­ers, and teach­ers, who ensure every­one is tak­en care of and no one is left behind.”

“We have seen all the pos­si­bil­i­ties this Nation holds in the moth­ers, fathers, and care­givers, who work hard to build a future wor­thy of their chil­dren’s great­est dreams, and in young peo­ple across the coun­try, who are the most tal­ent­ed, engaged, and edu­cat­ed gen­er­a­tion in history.”

Here are some of the things our team at NPI is thank­ful for this year:

Snohomish County Sheriff-elect Susanna Johnson

We are thank­ful that vot­ers in Sno­homish Coun­ty, Wash­ing­ton’s third largest sub­di­vi­sion, have elect­ed a new top law enforce­ment offi­cial to replace right wing Sher­iff Adam Fort­ney: Susan­na John­son. John­son is a calm and thought­ful pro­fes­sion­al who was sup­port­ed by all liv­ing for­mer sher­iffs in her campaign.

“Susan­na is a dec­o­rat­ed grad­u­ate of the FBI Nation­al Acad­e­my, which is the most sought-after exec­u­tive law enforce­ment lead­er­ship train­ing in the world, and also worked her way through col­lege to earn a mas­ter’s degree,” her cam­paign biog­ra­phy states. “Like many peo­ple, Susan­na rec­og­nizes that this is a piv­otal time for the pro­fes­sion. Although the major­i­ty of police offi­cers with Susan­na’s tenure have elect­ed to retire, she believes this is the most crit­i­cal time for expe­ri­enced lead­ers to step up and lead the way.”

“A native of the Pacif­ic North­west, Susan­na lives in beau­ti­ful Lake Stevens. She is mar­ried and enjoys camp­ing, gar­den­ing, walk­ing the dogs, hang­ing out with the kids and grand­kids, and build­ing any­thing. She is also a long­time com­mu­ni­ty vol­un­teer, work­ing with youth across Sno­homish Coun­ty for over thir­ty years.”

We appre­ci­ate Susan­na step­ping up and being will­ing to serve!

Spokane Mayor-elect Lisa Brown

We are thank­ful that vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton’s sec­ond largest city have cho­sen a new chief exec­u­tive: Lisa Brown. For­mer­ly a Wash­ing­ton State Sen­a­tor and the Direc­tor of the Depart­ment of Com­merce, Brown has the expe­ri­ence and the vision to be a great leader for the Lilac City. She defeat­ed an unpop­u­lar right wing incum­bent, Nadine Wood­ward, who repeat­ed­ly demon­strat­ed bad judg­ment, such as when she went to event with mil­i­tant fun­da­men­tal­ist Matt Shea and accept­ed a bless­ing from him, then claimed she had­n’t intend­ed to share a stage.

“As an econ­o­mist, edu­ca­tor, civic leader, and for­mer state leg­is­la­tor, Lisa has used her skills and rela­tion­ships to get big things done for Spokane, bring­ing resources and invest­ments to the city and the region for decades,” her cam­paign web­site explains. “She loves this city for its peo­ple, neigh­bor­hoods, poten­tial and qual­i­ty of life, includ­ing abun­dant access to nature.”

“On the week­ends, you can find Lisa hik­ing and bik­ing with her hus­band Bri­an across the many trails in the region or enjoy­ing one of Spokane’s parks with her grand­son Blaze. She appre­ci­ates the fan­tas­tic culi­nary and cul­tur­al offer­ings of the city, espe­cial­ly live music when her son, Lucas Brook­bank Brown, is on the stage. Lisa has lived as a renter or home­own­er  in all four quad­rants of the city and is cur­rent­ly a res­i­dent of the West Cen­tral Neighborhood.”

Senate Bill 5082

We’re thank­ful that the Leg­is­la­ture and Gov­er­nor Inslee enact­ed SB 5082, our leg­is­la­tion to per­ma­nent­ly abol­ish Tim Eyman’s push polls and replace them with truth­ful, use­ful fis­cal infor­ma­tion. The half-decade effort to pass this bill was sup­port­ed by many NPI allies. Work­ing with Leg­isla­tive Direc­tor Kathy Saka­hara and the NPI staff, the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Jus­tice Coali­tion and Bal­ance Our Tax Code mem­bers helped us get this noble cause across the fin­ish line.

Many elec­tions offi­cials endorsed and cham­pi­oned our leg­is­la­tion too. We’re grate­ful to Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs, Thurston Coun­ty Audi­tor Mary Hall, and King Coun­ty Elec­tions Direc­tor Julie Wise for their assistance.

Thanks to every­one who tes­ti­fied, wrote a let­ter to the edi­tor, con­tact­ed a leg­is­la­tor, or donat­ed to sup­port our advo­ca­cy. You made a difference!

My Health, My Data Act

We’re thank­ful that the Leg­is­la­ture took action this year to pass a nation-lead­ing repro­duc­tive data pri­va­cy law. Polling we released ear­li­er this year showed that more than sev­en in ten vot­ers sup­port the My Health, My Data Act intro­duced by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Van­dana Slat­ter and request­ed by Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Ferguson.

“The My Health My Data Act is the first pri­va­cy-focused law in the coun­try to pro­tect per­son­al health data that falls out­side the ambit of the Health Insur­ance Porta­bil­i­ty and Account­abil­i­ty Act, or HIPAA,” the AGO explains. “The Act was devel­oped to pro­tect a consumer’s sen­si­tive health data from being col­lect­ed and shared with­out that consumer’s con­sent. Washington’s con­cern for the urgent need to enhance pri­va­cy pro­tec­tions for health data is wide­ly shared: 76% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans express sup­port for the My Health My Data Act.”

Sensible gun safety legislation

We’re thank­ful that this year, the Leg­is­la­ture final­ly took the impor­tant step of ban­ning assault weapons in Wash­ing­ton, build­ing on past work to ban high-capac­i­ty mag­a­zines, ghost guns, and bump stocks. The Ever­green State has become a wide­ly respect­ed nation­al leader on gun safe­ty legislation.

We’re glad to have been able to sup­port the impor­tant work of our friends at the Alliance for Gun Respon­si­bil­i­ty with our research polling and leg­isla­tive advo­ca­cy. Our col­lec­tive good work has made our com­mu­ni­ties safer and saved lives.

NPI supporters

And final­ly, we’re thank­ful that we were able to bring our research polling to more local­i­ties this year, includ­ing Seat­tle City Coun­cil Dis­trict #3, which had a key city coun­cil con­test in 2023. Many Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers stepped up with con­tri­bu­tions to make that hap­pen. You’re the best! Have a great Thanksgiving.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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