After politicians’ fuss, inaugural ball moved

Staff writerDecember 8, 2012 

The inaugural ball will be held at the Capitol after all.

Organizers had planned to move the Jan. 16 party to Saint Martin’s University in Lacey. But after politicians raised a fuss, state officials were able to help solve many of the logistical concerns raised about the Capitol Campus, allowing the ball to return to where it has been held since Gov. Booth Gardner’s first inauguration.

The organizing committee was “able to pull off a pretty incredible switch to get it back on the Capitol Campus,” said former Secretary of State Ralph Munro. “It really becomes a gala then, and much more than just a routine event.”

Munro, a Republican, is a member of the transition team for the ball’s guest of honor, Jay Inslee, whose election last month extended Democrats’ hold on the Governor’s Office that Gardner began in 1985.

Lisa Cosmillo, a spokeswoman for the Governor’s Inaugural Ball Committee, had said problems with the Capitol Campus included inaccessible facilities and a lack of parking for the as many as 5,000 attendees, plus the potential for damage to the campus and of gatecrashers coming in any of numerous entrances.

But she said Friday that tents with food and entertainment would be set up on the south side of the Capitol, where they won’t cause damage to its sandstone and where people with disabilities can access them without first navigating the building’s stairs. Ceremonies will still be held inside, under the dome. The changes will also reduce the number of entryways.

“The parking issue is what it is. Everybody seemed to feel they would prefer to have a hard time parking but still be at the Capitol,” Cosmillo said.

An insert with the new location will be placed in invitations, which have already been printed, she said.

Saint Martin’s “graciously” agreed to let the committee withdraw from its contract to use the pavilion there, Cosmillo said.

Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who had earlier resigned himself to the move to Lacey, said there was “just enough pressure” from many people, including those reluctant to buy tickets, to force a switch.

“I’m glad that things worked out and we don’t have competing events,” said Hunt, who had been talking about holding some kind of open house at the Capitol the same night.

The Olympia City Council had also pushed for a return to the campus.

Tickets to the ball are $100 and can be purchased at www.wastategovball.org.

Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826 jordan.schrader@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/politics @Jordan_Schrader

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