McCaffree revisits ‘most productive decade’ Saturday

POULSBO — Authors of “Politics of the Possible” will be at Liberty Bay Books on Saturday, 4-6 p.m. during the Poulsbo Arts Festival to sign copies and discuss the relevance of the book to this election season.

“Politics of the Possible” was authored by Mary Ellen McCaffree, a former lawmaker and co-founder of the Great Peninsula Conservancy; and Anne McNamee Corbett, co-founder of the Kitsap Land Trust.

McCaffree is a former Hansville resident now living in Snohomish.

In her career, she served four terms in the state Legislature, worked on two statewide redistricting initiatives, co-authored legislation that established the state’s community college system, served on the first hearings boards for Pollution Control and Shoreline Management, and was the first woman to serve as director of the state Department of Revenue.

She also served as King County budget director and as administrative assistant to a U.S. senator.

Upon retiring from public life, she continued to encourage women to take active roles in local and national politics, and served on many local, state and national commissions, committees and boards.

“Politics of the Possible” ( retraces what McCaffree’s calls Washington state’s “most productive and legendary decade,” when elected leaders “moved beyond partisanship and focused on problem-solving for the people.”

The story unfolds through the eyes of McCaffree, a mother of five who entered politics to champion her children’s schools, considered overcrowded and underfunded. In her four terms as a state legislator from Seattle, she was central to Gov. Dan Evans’ leadership team, was an architect and author of a major program of tax reform, and championed education and environmental protections.

The book charts the “overhaul of Washington state during the 1960s, culminating in a 1970 special legislative session that capped a sweeping program of progressive, bi-partisan reforms.”

McCaffree and Corbett said they wrote the book out of concern that many people don’t understand well enough how government works in order to play a part in assuring government works for them. The authors hope the book provides a real-world model of citizen-driven success, along with tools for getting involved and making a difference.

The authors wrote in the book’s preface, “More than a history, it affirms what is possible here and now.”

Bill Gates Sr. said of the book, “Readers will tend to weigh what they see happening today against the important principles Mary Ellen McCaffree lays out so effectively ...”


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