Island County Democrats open office in ‘enemy territory’

New headquarters for party is located in Oak Harbor, a longtime Republican bastion.

The Democrats have landed — in a storefront in Oak Harbor.

“It’s a great milestone for us,” said Erica Schumacher of Oak Harbor, the Island County Democratic Party’s vice chairman for Whidbey Island.

“We raised enough money to cover the first year’s rent. That was our goal,” she said.

It’s the first Democrat headquarters on the island in nearly 50 years, and it’s right in the middle of Republican territory.

“There was another headquarters in the 1960s, but we haven’t found anyone who knows anything about it,” Schumacher said Monday.

The new digs are at 890 Bayshore Drive, Suite 2. Schumacher said the office will operate daily, staffed by volunteers.

Island County Democrats will hold a grand opening on Tuesday night of the party’s new headquarters.

Local Democrats and candidates are invited Tuesday night to watch the primary election returns.

“The timing is important, and so is the location,” she said. “It’s in the largest city in the county, and the area’s also notoriously Republican.”

Schumacher said the recent turnout for the Democratic caucuses showed that there are “hundreds of folks living in enemy territory and making it their own.”

She said there was talk about putting the new headquarters in the South End, “but that would just be preaching to the choir.”

Schumacher credited Jill Helwig, party treasurer, with seeing the project through.

“She’s a force of nature,” Schumacher said. “She gets things done.”

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