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County Democrats show support for Dean

YAKIMA - Surprisingly, many Yakima County Democrats are still in favor of Howard Dean facing off against President George Bush this coming November.

This past Saturday at the Yakima County Democratic Convention in Yakima's Carpenter Hall, which drew a jam packed crowd of about 250 people, Howard Dean supporters showed surprising strength by electing 17 delegates to attend the state convention in Tacoma in early June. Supporters of the nation's front runner to take on Bush, Sen. John Kerry, elected 22 delegates to Tacoma.

The turnout for last Saturday's Yakima County Democratic Convention was one of the best-attended county conventions in a decade.

Of the many issues considered Saturday for inclusion in the Democratic party platform, the debate on the issue of same-gender couples ensued. Delegates weighed in on a motion to change the phrase "civil marriage" to "civil union," and to drop another reference to marriage in the platform plank. But, the motion was rejected.

A Yakima city controversy-the construction of a new Wal-Mart store in west Yakima-was injected into the floor debate, as delegates considered a resolution opposing the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Supporters of the resolution said the agreement has a devastating impact on American jobs. Speakers at the county convention urged attendees to support local businesses as a way to protect jobs and the Yakima economy from competition from national box stores.

In passing the anti-NAFTA motion on Saturday, the delegates also expressed opposition to the Free Trade of the Americas and the Central American Free Trade Agreement as pacts that threaten American jobs.

Democratic delegates voted down a motion to strike "universal gun registration and licensing" from the platform, and resoundingly expressed their opposition to a proposal in Congress to replace the image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the dime coin with that of Ronald Reagan.

Also Saturday, overwhelming support for the proposed Black Rock Reservoir was voiced, along with a resolution urging Congress not to close the Walla Walla veterans hospital as a budget saving measure. Convention attendees also voted to ask Congress to pass the DREAM Act to help to make higher education more affordable for undocumented students and to enable them to attain full citizenship. Also approved was a resolution for incorporating Pacific Northwest Indian tribal histories into existing Washington state history and social studies classes.

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