Seniors & Aging

Birch Bay progressives stay busy rallying Democrats in GOP-leaning district

Names: Ruth Higgins and Al Krause.

Ages: Higgins is 76; Krause is 84.

Hometown: Higgins was born in Vancouver, B.C., and raised in Coquitlam. She moved to the U.S. in 1960 and became a citizen in 1974. Krause grew up in Butler County, Ppennsylvania, 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. The couple came to Birch Bay in 2003 by way of California.

Family: Higgins has one son from a previous marriage and two grandchildren.

Political prowess: Their history of volunteering for the Democratic cause and a variety of Democratic candidates over the years has deepened the couple’s understanding about and interest in politics. Higgins began volunteering in Seattle in the 1960s; Krause started volunteering 30 years ago, working for a state Senate candidate in California.

Driving force: Higgins and Krause say they both saw a need for change “in the decision-making system” and wanted to help be part of that change.

Before politics: Krause worked as a media consultant for the investment community before retiring. Higgins worked in various administrative roles in health care.

No rest for the retired: Krause and Higgins are retired, but volunteer work keeps them busy. They play a crucial role in volunteer recruitment for Democratic candidates with a stake in the 42nd Legislative District, and last year worked for four Whatcom County Council candidates, all of whom won.

This year they have worked on the election campaigns of Seth Fleetwood, Satpal Sidhu and Joy Monjure, and on the re-election campaign of Congresswoman Suzan DelBene.

Higgins also is part of a letter-writing group and a member of an outreach committee charged with organizing parades and manning booths at fairs and festivals. Krause helps Higgins in those endeavors and handles phone calls and door-to-door canvassing.

“This is the most active I have ever been,” Higgins says.

There isn’t much time for rest, because as soon as one task is accomplished they have more tasks added to their to-do list.

“If you suggest it or think about it, it becomes yours,” Higgins says.

Presidential workers: Both were instrumental rallying volunteers in northwest Whatcom County during the 2008 campaign for President Barack Obama. They later documented their effort in a book, “Lessons Learned from the Obama 2012 Grassroots Campaign.”

Political realists: Krause and Higgins recognize the uphill battle they face rallying the Democratic vote in the conservative-leaning 42nd District. As Krause likes to say, “contentiousness is the concomitant of creativity.”

Beyond politics: They also are active in the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce, and enjoy traveling. After their busy election schedule this year, they plan to take off a few months to enjoy some down time and to visit Higgins’ son and grandchildren.

Volunteering good for you: Higgins and Krause say volunteering is a healthy way to spend one’s time. They spend hours walking in parades and doorbelling, and they enjoy the social stimulation that comes with volunteering.

“It’s a healthy way to spend your time and you’re helping in the civic process,” Higgins says.

Getting to know people is just as important as the political cause, Krause adds.

“Knocking on doors, we learned a lot of people in our community,” he says.