KNKX Connects to Olympia | KNKX

KNKX Connects to Olympia

KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco talks with House Speaker Laurie Jinkins during a live conversation at the Temple of Justice on Jan. 13 in Olympia.
Tom Collins

Hours after she was sworn in on a historic first day of the 2020 legislative session Jan. 13, House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, talked live with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco. It was part of our special KNKX Connects to Olympia broadcast in the Temple of Justice on Jan. 13. They discussed legislative priorities, including gun-control bills, what her swearing in means for representation in state government — and some pretty neat bipartisan socks.  

KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco talks with Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib during a live conversation at the Temple of Justice on Jan. 13 in Olympia.
Tom Collins

As part of our KNKX Connects to Olympia broadcast at the Temple of Justice on Jan. 13, Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib talked live with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco. They discussed the tensions between the U.S. and Iran, Washington’s role in global trade and challenges facing Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration.

Rep. My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue, talks to KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco ahead of a live conversation in the Temple of Justice in Olympia on Jan. 13.
Tom Collins

Rep. My-Linh Thai moved to the U.S. when she was 15, as a refugee from Vietnam. Now, she’s a Democratic representative for the 41st District, which includes Bellevue and Mercer Island. She talked live with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco, during our KNKX Connects to Olympia broadcast on Jan. 13, about the changing face of the Legislature, among other issues.

KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco talks with House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox at the Temple of Justice on Jan. 13 in Olympia.
Tom Collins

As part of our KNKX Connects to Olympia broadcast at the Temple of Justice on Jan. 13, Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, talked live with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco. The House minority leader discussed Republican priorities in the Legislature — including Initiative 976 — and homelessness, among other issues.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

  

As part of our conversations for KNKX Connects to Olympia, we’ve heard lawmakers talk about homelessness as a priority for this 60-day session. It’s a growing issue in many parts of our state, not just cities. But it is perhaps most visible there.

Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins holds up a cassette tape containing one of his first stories on the beat, from 2004.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

  

Never walk across the state Capitol Campus with Austin Jenkins if you’re in a hurry.

Fortunately, we are not in a hurry as Jenkins shows us around today, which is good, because he stops every so often to chat with someone he knows: a staffer at the front desk of the Capitol visitors’ office, a lawmaker making his way across the rotunda to a meeting, an acquaintance whose son was on the same basketball team as his.

The truth is, Jenkins gets around this place with plenty of speed — he says he can get from his office to the rotunda in under three minutes — and knows the Capitol Campus inside and out.

A tree is gradually sliding into the water at Priest Point Park in Olympia. This beach is a favorite of "Welcome to Olympia" podcast host Rob Smith, who showed KNKX his favorite places in town.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

Olympia is home to about 52,000 people, and it’s growing. Rob Smith is one of the new arrivals. He came here about six years ago, and was so taken with the city that he started a podcast about it.

“Welcome to Olympia” explores not just the sights in Washington’s capital city, but also the stories. As we explored stories from Olympia for our KNKX Connects reporting project, we wanted to journey beyond the Capitol Campus. Smith showed us some of his favorite places.

WATERSHED PARK

Cory Walster, Lewis Conway Jr. and Tarra Simmons
Courtesy of Cory Walster, Lewis Conway Jr., and Tarra Simmons

We all fall somewhere on a spectrum when it comes to political participation. Maybe we just skim the news or vote in big races, but sometimes we're pushed to do more: join a march, testify in Olympia, or even run for office.

Getting involved can be risky, because it's public and there's no guarantee your voice will be heard. Those risks are amplified when you have a criminal record.

New Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Debra Stephens speaks from the bench after she was sworn in, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, in Olympia, Wash. Stephens replaced former Justice Mary Fairhurst as Chief Justice, who retired in January as she battles cancer.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Debra Stephens became chief justice of the Supreme Court of Washington — the state’s highest court — on Jan. 6. She’s been on the court since 2008, and is currently the only sitting justice from Eastern Washington.

We visited Chief Justice Stephens to talk about the law, being chief justice, and more. We aired this conversation during a special broadcast on Jan. 13, 2020, from the Temple of Justice, as part of our KNKX Connects reporting project.

Julie Blecha

What is it like writing speeches for the governor? Turns out it’s far less bureaucratic than the corporate world. During a break in her radio career, KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick worked at the state Capitol during Gov. Gary Locke’s second term. She worked in the communications office, alongside speechwriter Mike Wiegand.

The two reunited to talk about the art of writing for someone else — specifically, the leader of Washington state — as part of our KNKX Connects to Olympia series.

Photo courtesy of Paul Lebens-Englund and the Washington State Historical Society

 


Olympia is much more than the center of state government. It also is a nexus of punk music. That started around the 1980s, and really hit its stride in the '90s — though punk is still an important part of the music scene in Olympia.

 

TVW

The Washington Senate Ways and Means Committee had a packed agenda on a Friday morning last April. They heard from lobbyists representing realtors, health insurers, commercial real estate developers and school board directors about a range of bills.

They also heard from young men who don’t normally get to walk the halls of the state Capitol. They were there to give testimony on a bill that meant a lot to them.