The attention of credit unions this week will be on Washington, D.C., where thousands have gathered for CUNA's annual Governmental Affairs Conference, The Credit Union Journal asked each of the state leagues to sum up how they work with their state and federal lawmakers. This year's questionnaire: What success have you had recruiting credit union members to run for political office, and what has worked for you? If this hasn't been part of your political strategy, is it something you plan to do in the future? Why or why not? Editor's Note: Some responses are written in the first-person voice of the respective state league or association.
Candidates With CU Connection Sought Out
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-CU-Vote, a credit union consumer advocacy council, is a separate entity created and managed by the Alabama Credit Union League whose sole purpose is to educate credit unions, credit union members and elected officials about the unique nature of credit unions and the political issues they face. A great deal of the election-year activities of the Alabama Credit Union League, apart from direct political contributions, was directed by CU-Vote.
Since CU-Vote was in its first year of full-time management during the 2002 election cycle, little emphasis was placed upon recruiting credit union members and volunteers to become candidates due to an early candidate-qualifying deadline in Alabama. Instead, we focused on identifying how many of our elected officials seeking re-election and their challengers belonged to a credit union. We were able to identify 89 candidates, or 35% of the total, who were credit union members. In the General Election 34% of all winners of state and federal-level races were credit union members. We can even assume that this is a conservative number given the fact that not every candidate responded to our request for that information.
Before the next election cycle begins CU-Vote plans to conduct at least one round of campaign schools to educate credit union officials and credit union members about the campaign process and to encourage them to personally run for various political offices. Political parties will tell you that recruiting quality candidates is the most difficult (and most important) part of the electoral process and that will be no different for credit unions. It is a goal that will not be accomplished overnight and will require a high degree of planning and political education to be done successfully. Once a system has been established, however, it will continue to provide quality credit union candidates for office for years and years to come.
Developing Key Contacts May Spark Interest
PHOENIX-No, Arizona has not recruited credit union members/staff or volunteers to run for political office, or as yet, held a campaign school.
The concentration has been to emphasize the importance of being involved with our lawmakers and regulators and to let them know the credit union difference. Arizona has built a Key Contact Program from the ground up and has made excellent progress at the federal level, to the point that we are now being contacted by several of the congressmen when legislation affecting credit unions arises.
Participation continues to increase as the Key Contacts maintain a consistent political presence with our federal lawmakers by volunteering for campaigns, attending fundraisers and by becoming resources for financial information. Two additional districts and a Congressman's retirement leaves us to groom new Key Contacts and to recruit contacts for more of our state lawmakers.
I think several of our credit union personnel would make excellent lawmakers, perhaps the involvement with the campaigns will spark an interest.
Term Limits Make CU Involvement Important
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-No one who works for or volunteers time with an Arkansas credit union has jumped into any political races, according to Reta Kahley, president of the Arkansas league. Kahley noted that most of the 78 CUs in the state are small-just three have assets of $100 million or more. But the state's credit unions have been very politically active. "We encourage our credit unions to get involved," Kahley said. "Last year a lot of our members were very active in campaigns. Our policy is to support incumbents who have supported credit unions. We had of CEOs and volunteers active in supporting credit union-friendly candidates." Kahley added that term limits in the state have made it even more important to remain involved.
'Campaign College' Is Key First Step
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.-It would be a great advantage to have credit union people in the legislature or our congressional delegation, and we encourage people, especially those already active on city councils or other local elected bodies, to consider a candidacy. In 2001, we held a "campaign college," and we continue with these education efforts. Because California is a huge state with densely populated districts and a full-time, professional legislature, building the momentum for a successful campaign can take years.
The credit union-politician initiative is fairly new, so we expect that we will see more activity in this area in the future.
School For Candidates Under Consideration
ARVADA, Colo.-Our initial step in Colorado and Wyoming is encouraging credit union volunteers, professionals, and members to build solid relationships with their elected leaders, both locally and nationally. In these discussions, we also promote the tremendous value associated with credit union people themselves being elected to political office. As a result of their work with credit unions, there are some individuals who have expressed that they are considering this for the future--and are taking steps to prepare themselves. We are considering offering a candidate school for those in the region who may be interested in pursuing political office as a career. At our recent Legislative Forums, key speakers also reinforced the importance of political involvement, and how critical it is to elect leaders from among ourselves.
Focus Still On Strenthening Relationships
WALLINGFORD, Conn.-The Connecticut Credit Union Association does not currently have a program to recruit members to run for political office. We do not plan to add this type of program to our political strategy in the near future, but would support a member who chose to run for statewide office in every way possible. Our goal is to continue to strengthen our relationships with elected officials in both Connecticut and Washington, D.C. by helping them with their re-election efforts.
League Cultivates Relationship Of Respect
NEW CASTLE, Del.-Delaware is either blessed or cursed with not having state charter enabling legislation. We, therefore, are not directly involved in recruiting CU members for political office and we do not have that plan in our strategy in the foreseeable future. Our senators routinely have had 30 years or more in office and our current congressman was our last governor. Delaware voters have a long conservative history of returning incumbents to office. We have a relationship of mutual respect with our delegation in Washington. We of them, because of their tenure, influence, and ongoing support of credit union issues. They of us, because of the number of politically active credit union voters in our state and our willingness to work campaigns when asked.
CU Officials Encouraged To Consider Running
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-The Florida Credit Union League has discussed running for office with a number of credit union members. While many have been encouraged, few have heeded the call. However, FCUL did discover during this year's election cycle that a number of candidates had their campaign accounts at credit unions, meaning credit union members are, in fact, running for office. FCUL subsequently supported these candidates, and now finds it has new friends in the political arena. Encouraging credit union members to run for office remains part of FCUL's political strategy and is something that will continue to be emphasized in discussions with politically active credit union members.
'CU-Friendly' Candidates Earn League Support
DULUTH, Ga.-Georgia Credit Union Affiliates has had a long history of supporting political candidates, at the local, state and federal levels, who are considered "credit union-friendly." That support often comes in the form of financial contributions, working at campaign offices stuffing envelopes and manning phone banks. Many of these candidates are credit union members themselves, such as recently elected Congressman Max Burns, (R-12th) who is a member of CORE Credit Union in Statesboro. The Affiliates do not actively seek out credit union members or employees to run for office. However, support is offered in terms of education on credit union issues for those candidates who are interested.
Most Elected Officials Already Are Members
HONOLULU-Due to Hawaii's high penetration of credit union membership, many candidates running for elective office are credit union members. The Hawaii Credit Union League has not 'recruited' credit union members to run for public office; however, it has provided active grassroots and monetary support to certain candidates who are closely associated with credit unions.
In the 2002 elections, one such candidate included an attorney who represents the league and several member credit unions. He is now a freshman legislator in the state House of Representatives and a member of the Consumer Protection & Commerce Committee, where many bills related to credit unions are heard.
Another is a long-time director of a local credit union. He won a first-term seat on his County Council. His vote and influence may play a key role in the ability of credit unions to retain an exemption on real property taxes.
League Presses For More Political Involvement
BOISE, Idaho-While we do not actively recruit credit union volunteers or staff for specific political offices, we continually encourage their political involvement at all levels, including running for office. Our focus is more on getting as many credit union people as possible comfortable with, and involved in, the political process so that we can better influence political decision-making across a wider spectrum. In view of the success we have had with this approach, we have no plans to change in the immediate future.
Several Board Members Already In Office
NAPERVILLE, Ill.-Two Illinois credit union board members currently serve in the House and Senate. A past representative of the Illinois Youth Involvement Council was also recently elected to a county board. These tenured credit union volunteers have aspired to political office due in large part to comprehensive legislative and political action programs of the Illinois league. Staff provides numerous opportunities, including: Congressional/State Government affairs seminars, campaign involvement, candidate interviews and a strong chapter political action system to encourage running for office and active participation. These programs have better acquainted our elected leaders with the process and positive results of their participation.
Nearly Half Of State Lawmakers Have CU Ties
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-In Indiana there have been a number of instances where credit union leaders have held elective office, although the Indiana Credit Union League has not aggressively recruited them. Grooming candidates is a long-term process; it takes many years for an individual to work his way up through the party structure in order to become a viable candidate for the Indiana General Assembly. In terms of influencing legislation, we have been very successful at the state level; in the past 20 years many beneficial laws and no punitive laws were passed. We focus our efforts on lawmakers whose actions can affect credit union operations: the Indiana General Assembly, the governor and the U. S. Congressional delegation.
Many of Indiana's legislators are already credit union members. In the 2002 Indiana General Assembly, 23 of 50 State Senators and 40 of 100 State Representatives were credit union members. The league and local credit union leaders maintain close relationships with these particular members, and encourage others to join credit unions.
PAC Identifies 'Opportunity Race' Candidates
DES MOINES, Iowa-In Iowa, our state PAC Trustees identify "opportunity race" candidates during each state election cycle. Opportunity race candidates are candidates that would be particularly strong supporters of credit unions at the state legislature. These candidates receive a higher level of PAC support, as well as organized grassroots assistance from credit unions in those districts. This past election, three of the identified opportunity race candidates were former credit union board members. Two of the three former board members were elected. Recruiting credit union members, and helping them get elected, will continue to be a priority as we view it critical to our future advocacy efforts.
League Throws Support Behind CU Members
WICHITA, Kan.-The Kansas CU Association hasn't actively pushed any credit union volunteers or professionals to run for office. But several have, and as the KCUA has become aware of them, it has done what it could to throw its support behind them. Individuals who are credit union directors and members of credit committees have sought office in Kansas, said David Dick, VP-association affairs. "When a credit union gives us a heads up, we talk to the candidate about credit union issues," said Dick. When it's clear there is agreement on the issues, the KCUA provides assistance with both fundraising and other campaign-related activities, he said.
State Law Restricts League's Involvement
LOUISVILLE, Ky.-The Kentucky league hasn't made candidate recruitment part of its legislative strategy in part because of significant restrictions on how involved the league can get in individual races. A member of the league's board unsuccessfully ran for office. The league did as much as we could within state law, but we're very restricted in what we can do. We could not endorse him in our newsletter, for example. As a registered lobbiest, the league's director of governmental affairs had to stay away from the election entirely, in accordance with state law. There are no plans to try to recruit CU officials or members to run for office at this time.
Education, Political Participation Is The Focus
HARAHAN, La.-Recruiting credit union members to run for political office is not currently part of our political strategy in Louisiana. Our strategic plan involves continued support of credit union-friendly candidates, and a strong commitment to educate our members and encourage our credit union professional and volunteers to participate in the political process.
CU Reps Are Encouraged To Run For Office
WESTBROOK, Maine-In 2002, Michael Michaud, a long-time credit union board member, successfully ran for an open seat in the U.S. Congress. The league's Governmental Affairs Committee was active in his campaign through fundraisers, coordinating volunteers and scheduling his campaign appearances at a number of credit union related events.
In addition, we encourage credit union participants to think about running for political office through promotional vehicles at various governmental affairs events and publications. We are consistently promoting the benefits of having CU members run for office. In turn, each election cycle we are able to identify several candidates who are currently serving as CU board members.
Fundraising, Grass Roots Still The Emphasis
COLUMBIA, Md.-We have not made any efforts to recruit credit union members to run for any political office. We are concentrating our political efforts on getting more people to participate in fundraising and grassroots activities. Nevertheless, should a credit union member find themselves in a political race where they need our help, I'm sure we would do what we can to ensure their success.
Political Activism Is A 'Cottage Industry'
SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass.-Massachusetts has a long tradition of political activism. In fact, the production of political operatives is something of a "cottage industry" in the Bay State. The league works together with individual credit unions and its chapter networks to attract politically active individuals to credit unions and to encourage credit union members to become politically active.
Making certain that people who choose public service as a career have been acquainted with credit union issues from the earliest stages of their careers is vitally important. The league's support of Congressman Barney Frank, ranking minority member of the House Banking Committee, in his 1982 run against Republican incumbent Margaret Heckler is an example of the benefits that early support of insightful elected officials can produce.
League Establishes 'Campaign School'
One of the best ways to ensure that the credit union industry perspective is heard is to elect people to public office who are familiar with issues of importance to the CU Movement.
To accomplish this goal, a "Campaign School" was hosted to provide credit union activists who are candidates, potential candidates, or just political activists who like to volunteer, with the tools needed for political advancement. Highlights of the agenda included former State Representative and Co-Director of the Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP) at MSU, Lynn Jondahl; John Truscott, former director of communications to Gov. John Engler; and Jim Sype, then director of constituent relations for the House Democratic Caucus.
The MCUL Campaign School was filled beyond its capacity at 117, and several "graduates" of the school did go on to run for local or state office. In the 2002 Election Cycle, MCUL actively supported 10 candidates who had worked for a credit union or volunteered on the board of a credit union.
Low Pay, No Time Make Candidacy Tough Sell
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.-Few know more about the difficulties entailed in running for and serving in a state legislature than Kevin Chandler, president of the Minnesota CU Network and a former state legislator. "It's extremely difficult to hold a full-time job and serve in the legislature," said Chandler. "It takes a lot of time and only pays $30,000 a year. That's why you see a lot of farmers and teachers in the legislature." Chandler noted that while at one time companies took pride in having an employee who was a legislator, today it's seen as a detriment.
Nevertheless, the MCUN did have success in getting Dave Senjem, a volunteer with Mayo Employees CU, to run for the legislature. Senjem won his seat in the most recent races. The MCUN remains very active in both state and national politics. Because of new rules clamping down on funding-no corporate funds can be donated, for instance-the MCUN has been supportive in other ways. "We provide a lot of elbow grease," Chandler said.
League Pushes For Greater Political Activism
JACKSON, Miss.-Robert Jackson, treasurer of Quitman/Tri-County Federal Credit Union, is running for the Mississippi Senate this coming year. In addition, Tawanna Tatum, Manager of MS Department of Transportation Federal Credit Union (MDOT FCU), currently serves as a Councilwoman for the city of Madison, Miss.
The Mississippi League encourages political involvement and we communicate its importance to credit unions. We are always pleased to support our politically active credit union representatives, whether it be on a local, state or national level. We recognize that their involvement plays an instrumental role in giving us a voice to communicate the credit union difference.
Cultivating Family Ties Pays Off In The End
ST. LOUIS, Mo.-We have in the past had credit union members and volunteers run for office, but they did not win. However, we had one state representative whom we befriended, and then his dad actually became a volunteer with one of our credit unions. Due to term limits, the son had to leave office, so his father ran in his place, and now we have a credit union volunteer who is also a state rep. Most of our efforts at this time are passive. Rather than focusing on recruiting credit union people to run for office, we find out which candidates or elected officials are credit union members and try to build on that relationship.
Co-ops Team Up For Campaign School
HELENA, Montana-We have cosponsored Campaign Schools with the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association and the Montana Chamber of Commerce. We obtained radio PSAs for the schools which were a good public service as well as good PR for credit unions. We encouraged credit union people to attend as potential candidates or campaign volunteers. We use our publications, website, direct mail, and direct verbal communication to encourage campaign involvement at all levels.
Candidate Recruitment An Informal Process
OMAHA, Neb.-For better and for worse, government policies will forever impact the future of the credit union system. The extent to which we can influence the politics will determine how much control we have over our own destiny. To that end, the Nebraska Credit Union League is committed to utilizing all available strategies (political or otherwise) to ensure that credit union ideals and philosophies are preserved, protected and promoted. To date, while we have had credit union representatives run for political office at all levels of government, the recruitment process has been relatively informal. Going forward we intend to actively seek out and encourage credit union supporters to throw their hat in the ring as part of an overall political action strategy.
Storied Political Activism Makes For Success
CONCORD, N.H.-New Hampshire has a long history of grassroots political activism, evidenced by the fact that it has the largest state legislature in the United States. The people of New Hampshire feel very connected to the political process. The league actively encourages credit union officials and credit union members to participate both directly and indirectly at all levels of government, local, state and national, and to promote the development, and prosperity of credit unions.
The league expects to work with America's Credit Union Museum in Manchester, N.H. to make the museum a focal point during New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary in February 2004. This beautiful facility in the middle of New Hampshire's largest city is perfectly situated to provide the perfect visual and contextual backdrop for campaign appearances.
Incumbency Keeps Newcomers At Bay
ALBANY, N.Y.-To date, NYSCUL has not actively worked to recruit credit union members to run for political office. In New York, because there are no term limits for the state legislature, incumbency rates are very high. For example, during the last three elections, only five sitting legislators have been defeated. Opportunities arise when a legislator decides to retire, but those are few and far between. However, we are always excited to see a credit unionist run for office, and have been supportive of members who have run for county or city office.
PAC, Grassroots Support For CU Legislators
GREENSBORO, N.C.-In North Carolina, as in other states, we find that many of our elected officials at the local, state and federal levels are indeed proud members of their local credit union. For this reason alone, our efforts have focused more on helping elect these folks rather than on recruiting our own candidates.
As these credit union members run for re-election or higher office, we have become increasingly effective at supporting their candidacies through endorsements, PAC support and grassroots communications. Most importantly though, we are helping these member-candidates more fully understand how the legislative and regulatory process impacts the ability of credit unions to deliver affordable financial services to our over 2.4 million members in North Carolina.
League Puts Candidate Recruitment On Agenda
BISMARCK, N.D.-In North Dakota we have not stressed getting cu members to run for political office. We did have a cu manager run for the state senate. She won in her first attempt but lost the bid for re-election this past fall. Are we going to pursue this more in the future? We will have this as an agenda item for our next Governmental Affairs Committee annual meeting.
Term Limits Offer More Opportunities For CUs
DUBLIN, Ohio-An eight-year term limit on General Assembly members has provided the Ohio Credit Union League with an opportunity to recruit credit union officials into the political arena.
The Ohio league is asking those who have run for office to share their experiences at events such as the Ohio Government Affairs Conference. One example is Andy Barkley, Director of Member Service at Greater Warren Community FCU. Andy provided an in-depth look at his campaign for Warren City Council, and was successful in spurring others to consider public office.
The league will contact other credit union officials in the months ahead, hoping to identify candidates for the 2004 elections.
Recruiting CU Lawmakers Is Goal In 2004
TULSA, Okla.-Recruiting credit union members to run in Oklahoma is one of our goals for the 2004 election cycle. Oklahoma's term limits go into effect in 2004, where half of our existing lawmakers will not be eligible to run. This is an opportunity to handpick several open seats and identify individuals to run. It is important to not make a blanket request for our industry people to run in the event that one would seek to oppose a candidate who holds a leadership position or is a solid supporter. Choose races wisely, focusing on seats offering the best chance of success.
CU Board Member Instrumental In State Arena
BEAVERTON, Ore.-Oregon's credit unions were instrumental in helping to elect State Sen. Rick Metsger. He was a board member for Portland Teachers CU and assisted in our FOM battles at the state capitol. Since his elected in 1998 and reelection in 2002, Sen. Metsger has been a key member of the Senate Business Committee, where much of our legislation is referred.
He is expected to Chair the Committee this session.
In addition, several credit union board members and staff have been elected to local government and school board positions. We hope to bring in a CUNA Campaign School this year and encourage more of our CU Advocates to run for legislative office.
Coaching CU Candidates Part of Activism
HARRISBURG, Penn.-The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association encourages credit union members to participate in the electoral process. We provide coaching through our chapters and State Governmental Affairs Conference and have seen an increase in the political activities of credit unions. The chapters often serve as a springboard to various political and community service activities.
Currently, we have credit union activists who serve as legislators, county commissioners and in other various local elected offices. These individuals all shared the desire to dedicate a significant amount of their time to public service. We aim to work with all of the participants in the process and to educate them in an unbiased way about the work of credit unions.
Politics Is Highly Personal In This Small State
WARWICK, R.I.-Politics is very personal in a state the size of Rhode Island. People tend to have first-hand relationships that provide the opportunity to have real genuine interaction with candidates and elected officials.
It also means that many people considering public office are likely to have a personal link to a credit union or credit unions. The league makes a real effort to encourage talented individuals with political ambitions to act on them and pursue office.
The league supported Sen. Reed in his first run for Senate. Rep. Patrick Kennedy received credit union support from the outset of his political career, as did Congressman Jim Langevin. Through local communities activities and events Rhode Island credit union officials stay in touch with local, state and national political leaders and in doing so keep credit union issues in the forefront
League Assists In Organizing Campaigns
IRMO, S.C.-In South Carolina, a former credit union employee serves in the S.C. House of Representatives. Other credit union staff are on school boards, local councils, and various state boards including the Small Business Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Financial Institutions.
SCCUL is available to help organize political campaigns. We also try to develop influential credit union friends by encouraging public officials to join a credit union and serve as a volunteer or staff member. However, we must do more to bring credit union friends into office. The cost of an inability to maintain our political influence is too great.
League Presently Not Recruiting Candidates
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-Recruiting credit union members to run for political office is not on our horizon at this time.
Building Relationships With Legislators Is Key
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.-In Tennessee, we have for several years focused a great deal of attention on building relationships between credit union CEOs and legislators. Because one in four Tennesseans is a credit union member, it is not unusual for many of our legislators to already be users of their own credit unions. So we build the relationships from scratch with those who have no credit union, and strengthen the ties with legislators who are credit union members.
We have not encouraged a credit union employee or official to enter a legislative race. However, if such an opportunity comes along, we will be very interested in exploring it.
Hike the Hill, PAC Are Success Stories
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas-While recruiting credit union members to run for political office has not been a high profile part of our political strategy, encouraging credit unions to become more politically involved has. We continually remind (and educate) credit unions through communication vehicles such as the "LoneStar Leaguer," "Owner & Members," "Owner & Volunteer" and "The Advocate," why their participation in the political arena is so vital to their future. We are confident that our message is reaching credit unions. Take Project Differentiation, for example. Texas holds the lead at 174 credit unions that have completed their statements. Also, we had a huge turnout at our Governmental Affairs Conference earlier this month-more than 250 credit union professionals and volunteers attended. Our Hike the Hill events continually attract a high-level of participation.
And TCUL PAC is yet another success story-and our credit unions deserve all of the credit. TCUL PAC supporters take this initiative very seriously, and with their contributions we are able to continue our commitment of supporting candidates who are supportive of CUs and their efforts to serve their members.
A follow-on from political involvement will inevitably be credit union members running for office with our active support. Just this week in a hearing before a Texas House Committee, one of the state representatives made a point of saying, "I belong to a credit union and credit unions are special to me."
We realize that in order to protect the future of credit unions, we need to not only watch closely the decisions of our legislators, but also be an active participant. We all know that their decisions can greatly impact a credit union's future ability to meet the ever- changing needs of its members. We know that we cannot take anything for granted. What is happening in Utah right now with HB 162 is a prime example of that. We need to make sure our legislators know who we are and understand what we stand for. If we want to secure our position in the financial marketplace-we better know who our elected officials are and they better know who we are and what our issues are.
CU-Friendly Legislators Gain League Support
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt.-Vermont's 38 credit unions haven't undertaken an orchestrated effort to get credit union officials elected to public office. However, there are a number of credit union-friendly legislators who are or have been in leadership roles in credit unions. During the most recent election cycle, three credit union persons of whom we were aware sought election to the state's legislature. In the future, we will encourage and support credit union candidates where appropriate as part of our continued public and legislative strategy.
League Seeks New Activism Opportunities
LYNCHBURG, Va.-The Virginia League has not, to date, actively recruited credit union members to run for political office but wholeheartedly supports the process. Credit unions, by virtue of their structure, are excellently positioned to serve as a source for our future local, state, and national political leaders. However, for such a campaign to be successful, credit unions must not only be willing to recognize their potential grassroots and fundraising power but to utilize that power to the fullest extent possible. The Virginia league recognizes the rewards the movement would reap by encouraging those who already have a solid understanding of credit union philosophy to enter the ranks of those who set our legislative and public policy. We will continue to look for and support the opportunities that allow us to do that.
Forging Connections First Step In Politics
FEDERAL WAY, Wash.-Generally, when credit union executives, staff, or volunteers indicate any interest in running for office our first response is to get them more involved in the political process. We set them up as a key contact in their district, carrying our message to their local legislators.
This also gives them the opportunity to build mentoring relationships with their local legislators. We also connect them to the appropriate caucus, since the caucus is responsible for recruiting new legislators.
We've even offered to help out with campaign fundraising. Currently, we have several credit union volunteers (or ex-volunteers) in office, but it's our hope that it's only a short matter of time until we have additional recruits from the credit union movement serving as elected officials in Washington State.