Olympia Rep. Sam Hunt said he doesn’t think elected officials will be able to stop the venue change for the Governor’s Inaugural Ball.
The Jan. 16 ball is being held this year at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey instead of its traditional home at the state Capitol, a move many legislators oppose. Hunt said he and Secretary of State Sam Reed met with Dan Neuhauser, chairman of the committee organizing the ball, to urge reconsideration but was told a contract had been signed with St. Martin’s and invitations printed, and that the Capitol posed too many logistical problems. ”They basically blew us off,” Hunt said.
Lisa Cosmillo, a spokeswoman for the inaugural committee, the committee, said the group listened to the concerns but she confirmed the site is a done deal. “We understand what they’re saying, it’s just (that) it’s not feasible. We wish it were, too,” Cosmillo said.
Cosmillo has said there is extra indoor space and greater accessibility at St. Martin’s Marcus Pavilion and Worthington Center, and that the Capitol campus presented problems with parking and stairs and required the use of heated tents. In explaining the decision today, she also cited security worries about gate-crashers, and said it’s costly to follow state-government rules for events.
Hunt predicted many legislators wouldn’t go to the ball. He said it should remain in the Capitol. ”I’m not picking on your gym,” Hunt said he told Neuhauser, “I just think you don’t have a dome on top of the building.”
“It’s the one chance that the people get to see their Capitol, and for all of us to celebrate election and re-election.”