As I was on my way into Rochester to check in on a Black Lives Matter protest going on I saw a man waving a sign for Bud Blake for Thurston County Commissioner District 1, it was Bud Blake. I decided to make a quick stop and ask if I could get an interview with him about his campaign, he happily agreed. As I was getting ready to pull back out onto the road, a few kids had gabbed a sign out of the ground nearby and decided to sign wave with Bud, making faces and over exaggerating their thumbs up to ensure horn honks out of drivers passing by which gave me a good laugh.
The following Tuesday I met Bud at the Tenino Bistro, a cute hometown diner. After ordering, I started off with the obvious question of “What made you want to run for office?” His answer was “To finish what he had started.” I had been so busy I had not had the time to do any research to learn that Bud had held this position in the past working as the only independent, making each and every proposal he made an uphill battle. Battles were nothing new to Bud though being a 25 year Army Veteran though and he gladly accepted the challenge in order to make positive changes for the people of Thurston County.
Bud Blake is able to see behind the curtain on what is taking place in our country today through what he has experienced in his life. When he was in Jr. High in 1981, he went to E. Berlin, Germany and Poland with his friend to see her grandmother in a small village and was able to see Communism first hand and the toll it took on the people and lands. He knew this was something he wanted to learn more about and prevent.
Today Bud speaks Russian more fluently than most Russians! He took a year of Russian at Florida State University before he could go no further in his studies there and enrolled in an intensive Russian Program at the University of Washington where you could only speak Russian, no English allowed. He eventually graduated from the University of Oregon with a Degree in Russian, during this time he had also received a scholarship to study in Russia. He Joined the Army and was sent to Defensive Language Institute mastering the Russian language becoming a Russian Linguist.
After serving in the Army all those years leading soldiers and advising leaders it doesn’t seem that far of a jump into the political ring. Bud took that jump with both feet. He saw the issues facing Thurston County and took them head on.
I could go on and on about all of the great things that Bud and I talked about but that would make this article so long you would lose interest, I want to highlight the things that really stood out to me. We face a huge issue with homelessness and with police officers not being able to do the one thing that they are there to do, serve and protect. I asked Bud what he had in mind to help alleviate these issues.
As for the officers getting back to serving and protecting there is a system that very few know of, or at least I didn’t know of. Taking the responsibility of acting as mental health evaluators, crisis evaluators or how ever you want to word it out of the hands of the officers…after all that is not what they are trained for…Designated Crisis Responders. These are highly trained professionals who respond to the scene of someone in mental distress or substance abuse situation and assess the person determining if they are a real danger to themselves or others. If it is determined that they are a danger, the DCR then locates a place for them to go for help. This is a 14-day program and is not voluntary. This is a very useful tool as officers are not trained for this type of assessment and often these situations escalate when they don’t need to. Please take the time to go and research this for yourself. Is it a perfect answer? No, I don’t believe that there is a perfect answer right now to any of the problems we face, but it is a start to helping take some responsibility off of the officers that should have never been put on them to begin with.
Another program Bud talked to me about is Peer Bridging. He is of the opinion that just building housing for the homeless is not going to solve the core issue. You often have to teach individuals how to deal with the obstacles that put them into homelessness to begin with. Peer bridging is a way to do just that.
Peer bridging is the concept of finding someone that has had similar life experiences as the person you are trying to help, someone that truly understands the path that person has walked and helping them walk out of the place they are in by knowing where they are because they have been in their shoes. Teaching them how to succeed and leave the old bad habits behind and have a support right from the start.
Peer Bridging can be a long term/permanent answer to the homelessness problem at a much lower cost than just throwing up housing at millions of dollars of tax payers money only to have the person move in with no real plan of success. If you get a chance to talk to Bud, ask him about Peer Bridging, he is passionate about it and I truly believe it is something that can really work well. People helping people.
At the core of it all that is what Bud Blake is about, helping the people of Thurston County, of this state, of this country. He believes in the constitution and bill of rights that our founding fathers framed for us and that were all should be able to enjoy the freedoms that they penned those documents to protect. Bud has a warm smile that is from the heart and a genuine drive to help and give to his neighbor. He took an oath when he joined the military to serve and protect…he is still honoring that oath today.
I am glad I listened to that voice that told me to stop and talk to the man waving the sign that day, because if I hadn’t I would have missed an opportunity to meet a very kind and interesting man who I think can do a lot for Thurston County, who can do a lot for his country still. I also would have missed out on making a new friend and discovering one of the best BLT sandwiches in Tenino.