Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scott White, an unbelievable loss...

It’s times like this that short statements fail.  Quick paragraphs put together in order to capture the moment.  I’m usually good at that, but last night I just couldn’t.  I heard the news at 8pm on Friday night when I got a call from Javier.  I was devastated.  Scott was a dear, dear friend, and his loss just cut down anything that I tried to say or do.  I saw a comment this morning on the Seattle Times article from someone who had known him from the age of 12, describing him as having the face of an angel AND a dragon-slayer.  The thought broke me down, and I have tears falling on my keyboard now.

I first met Scott in May, 2003.  I’d finished a class at the University of Phoenix about State and Local Government, and I was curious about the Democratic Party in my local area.  The meeting was held at the Olympic View Church, and it was an eye-opener.  The LaRouche crowd stormed the meeting, and stood on chairs to sing protest songs.  Scott’s reaction, as the Chair of the district organization, was to calmly call the Seattle police to peacefully escort the kids out of the room so the meeting could continue.

He was willing to let me help build the 46th LD website, and we worked together on the initial design of the site, then told me to run with it.  That design has not changed much since.  He strongly believed in empowering people and trusting them.  I was grateful to have earned his trust.  Over the 5 years that I worked with him within the 46th Executive Board, he taught me a great deal about organizational infrastructure, how to handle difficult subjects at meetings, and that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as we take responsibility for them and correct them.

I have 8 years of emails from him.  The website has a near complete record of the newsletters that he published.  When he resigned as Chair to make a run for the State House, he put together a CD of all of the work and all of the records that he had about the 46th.  That was in 2008, and I’m still finding things today that I hadn’t known that help me do the job as Chair.

Scott was a true progressive, to my mind.  His decisions were focused on making practical and thoughtful steps towards a brighter future for our kids, and he wanted to hear from all sides and all voices before making a decision.  He knew, and stated eloquently in words, that our future depends on standing up to the abuse of power.  He believed in the power of government to be a positive force in our society, and he knew that the true power of government rests in the hands and voices of the people who are affected by the decisions made by lawmakers and business leaders at all levels.

I’ll let the last words in this be Scott’s, from his article in the March, 2003 Demogram.

Why are YOU a Democrat?  For most of us this is a simple question, but do you ever take the time to run through the whole list of reasons?  Is it because you believe in protecting the environment?  Social and economic justice?  Peace?  Grassroots democracy?  Creating a better education system for our children?  Whatever your reasons, I will guarantee you something:  you have friends and neighbors who share your values.

Think about it.  Every time you have a conversation with one of your neighbors about an issue that you share progressive views on, you are essentially talking about Democratic politics.  And whether they realize it or not, these friends and neighbors who want to invest in their community to create a better world for themselves and their children are one of us—they are Democrats.


Al Garman said...

Chad and 46th Dems, my deepest sympathy and sincere condolences on Scott's sudden and too soon passing away. Washington State lost a great leader and a true progressive, we all mourn his death and will keep his family in our thoughts. The Maggies will be a tearful event when remembering him tonight.

Leslie Helm said...

I met him for the first time Wednesday but left feeling he was someone special, young but thoughtful. Someone to watch. How devastating to learn of this loss.

Anonymous said...

Shocking, and distressing. An irreparable loss on so many levels. Will take us all a while to adjust. Sorry for the loss to you and his family and all those who are feeling the loss keenly.

Tom Veatch, PCO 46-2338 said...

Scott taught me about success through listening. What is your issue?, he asked me. Telling someone else leads to them telling you, asking them leads to them asking you. For a process to move forward we need openness, which he knew how to build, through his own openness. The opposite of a dictator, literally 'one who says', is one who listens, is a person like Scott White. This lesson which his example taught me changed me forever.

DLMM said...

I met Scott at the precinct caucuses several years ago and was so impressed with both his grasp of the issues and his personable style as a leader. I was shocked and saddened to hear of his untimely death, and extend my deepest sympathies to his family in their time of loss. A bright star in our Democratic leadership has gone out.