Olympia state Rep. Sam Hunt said he doesn’t think elected officials will be able to keep the Governor’s Inaugural Ball from moving to a new venue.
The Jan. 16 party is being held this year at Saint Martin’s University instead of its traditional home at the state Capitol, a move many legislators oppose. Hunt, a Democrat, said he and Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed met with Dan Neuhauser, chairman of the committee organizing the ball, to urge reconsideration.
Hunt said he was told a contract had been signed with the college in Lacey and invitations had been printed, and that the Capitol posed too many logistical problems. “They basically blew us off,” Hunt said.
Lisa Cosmillo, a spokeswoman for the inaugural committee, said the group listened to critics’ concerns, but she confirmed the site is a done deal.
“We understand what they’re saying. It’s just (that) it’s not feasible. We wish it were, too,” Cosmillo said.
Cosmillo has said there is more indoor space and greater accessibility at the school’s Marcus Pavilion and Worthington Center, which together hold 5,000 people, and that the Capitol campus presented problems with parking and stairs, and required the use of heated tents.
In explaining the decision Thursday, she also cited security worries about gate-crashers, and said it’s costly to follow new state-government rules for events.
She didn’t know which rules were a problem. The Department of Enterprise Services, which manages state facilities, said it now charges for custodial services if cleanup is needed, and has requirements for protection of the Capitol’s marble and sandstone for groups that set up tents or platforms.
Hunt predicted many legislators wouldn’t go to the ball at the pavilion, which is home to athletic events such as Saints volleyball matches and basketball games. “I’m not picking on your gym,” Hunt said he told Neuhauser, “I just think you don’t have a dome on top of the building.”
“It’s the one chance that the people get to see their Capitol,” Hunt said, “and for all of us to celebrate election and re-election.”Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826 blog.thenewstribune.com/politics firstname.lastname@example.org @Jordan_Schrader