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'Save our ferries'

"I saw the signColorful handmade signs dotted the crowd at the ferry rally Thursday. This is what they said:* Ferries are our bridges to the 21st Century.* Don't blow up our bridge to Vancouver Island. Keep our international ferry running all year, not just for summer tourists.* Save the bridges of San Juan* Ferries are mass transit at its best* Be fair to ferries* Ferries are our bridges to schools and doctors* Property owners rights (include ferry service)* Save ferry service and jobs. Use reserve fund now!* The ferries are our only highway. Orcas Island.* Ferries = Highways* Ferries reduce traffic* Don't rock the boat, save our ferries* Fund the ferries* I-695 = 1999 Eyeman Idiot Award* Float the ferries* I can't walk on H2O* Ferries are Whidbey Island's highway to the rest of the world* Inlandboatmen's Union: Fully fund our ferries. Don't privatize Washington State Ferries.* Ferries 4 everFive-year-old Scotty Sabatini's reasons for riding the ferry are simple. Baseball games and the Pacific Science Center wait on the other side of the water from his Bainbridge Island home.He also relies on ferries for his food and clothing. His father, Craig Sabatini, works as a ferry car toll collector on Bainbridge Island. So Scotty took his first stab at political activism Thursday, joining hundreds of adults in a rally in Olympia with one message: Save our ferries.The message was chanted by the crowd, scrawled on posters and printed on stickers stuck to shirts, faces, backs and bottoms.The legislators listened.Rep. Kelly Barlean, R-Langley, on Friday morning described the size of the crowd as impressive, but quipped that there were not a lot of guys from Spokane. He did see a number of faces from his home town and island.The ferry users' message has been heard, according to Barlean. He said the House GOP budget released Friday includes an additional $20 million for ferries beyond the governor's proposal, including a steady revenue stream from auto license sales taxes, with that figure doubling in the next biennium.Mary Margaret Haugen, a Democrat who represents Whidbey and Camano Islands, was one of a dozen legislators to address the crowd on Thursday. We're not going to solve the (ferry) problems on the backs of the ferry users, she said.Her statement had a ring similar to the cry of the unions, who have made the same demand. Union presence was strong at the rally--in signs, speakers and supporters.Burien resident Peggy Wilkey was one of the supporters. The 50-year-old mother of three, who has worked in the galleys of Bremerton-to-Seattle auto ferries for 12 years, said she joined the rally to save her job.Anne Garfield of Orcas Island went to save San Juan runs so her 12-year-old son can continue playing basketball in a Mount Vernon league. Her other son, 1-year-old Evan, was perched on her back in a baby carrier.Friday Harbor High School seniors Tom Bair, 17, and Davin Highley, 18, attended the rally covered in green and white Save our ferries stickers. Bair's mother and Highley's guardian work off-island, so the students said they were worried that ferry fares hikes would make commuting too expensive.Record editor Jim Larsen contributed to this story."

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