ABERDEEN — The Grays Harbor Democrats inducted three lifelong members into its hall of fame Saturday night, giving standing ovations to Grays Harbor Treasurer Ron Strabbing, longtime activist Helen Sanders and retired PUD commissioner Tom Casey.
This is the second time in recent years that the Democrats have come together to honor their own.
The inaugural inductee ceremony in 2011 saw retired House majority leader Lynn Kessler and the late Winona Hammonds, the late former county commissioner Bill Bilsland, the late Senate majority leader Sid Snyder and the late Quinault leader Joe DeLaCruz added to the legacy hall of fame.
A large plaque with all of the names, including new inductees Strabbing, Casey and Sanders, is on display at the Democrats’ regular meeting place at the Polish Club in Aberdeen.
Congressman Derek Kilmer was set to be the keynote speaker Saturday night, but the government shutdown kept him from leaving Washington, D.C. He sent a video message expressing his disappointment.
Kessler filled in and urged her fellow Democrats to contact House Republicans to express their disappointment in the shutdown.
Strabbing has been the county’s treasurer since July 1, 1981. He and wife Betty have been active members, where they help guide the Democrats’ finances, as well as the county’s. Strabbing has also served on the executive boards of the Washington State County Officials, Washington State Municipal Treasurers and the Washington State Treasurers. He has also served on the boards of United Way, Grays Harbor Hospital, Coastal Community Action Program and the fair board.
Casey served as a policy analyst with the state House of Representatives from 1973 to 1978. He was a citizen activist on energy and utility issues for four years and prior to being elected as a commissioner to the Grays Harbor PUD in 1982. During his years of service, he also served on the Board of Energy Northwest. He retired from office in 2012. He lives on a cattle ranch on the upper Satsop River with his family — and dozens of vintage cars. He has served as president of the Shelton Drag Racing Association.
Sanders, a member of the Chehalis Tribe, still lives on the family farm owned by her great-grandmother in Oakville. She’s one of the longest serving Precinct Committee Officers.
In the 1970s, she owned the logging company M&G Logging and served four years as secretary of the National Congress of American Indians. The recipient of many awards — the Washington Women in Timber Award, the ILWG Achievement Award and others.
Sanders was also the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which is a seminal case outlining the U.S. government’s duty in the management of tribal land.
The event was organized by Montesano attorney Vini Samuel.