Following Mayor Ramon Hayes call Friday, March 20 to Gov. Jay Inslee and Inslee’s own declaration to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” the governor announced he was transferring the capital to La Conner until state health officials could guarantee Olympia and the rest of Washington was coronavirus free on Monday.
Hayes purportedly made a second call, demanding the governor show his order has teeth and will be enforced. Saturday and Sunday cars from Seattle cruised up and down the town’s First Street. Tourists were heard worrying that the La Conner Coffee Company would run out of ice cream.
“The tulip fields are closed,” Hayes supposedly said to Inslee. “Now you have to close the roads leading to those fields. Those cars come straight from the tulip fields into my town. You have to protect La Conner and keep its citizens safe.”
Hayes offered Gaches Mansion as the governor’s residence. Use of the mansion was a key consideration for choosing La Conner. “We can walk to Town Hall while keeping our social distancing,” Inslee was reported to have said. “And we will be warm at night.”
State staff and those doing business with the governor will fill the Country Inn, putting people back to work and dollars into the La Conner economy. “Everyone walking up Second Street will give them much needed exercise while they maintain social distancing,” an aide supposedly heard Inslee muse.
Leasing Gaches Mansion, the Country Inn and other lodging as needed will more than make up for the loss of revenue from the state’s stay at home order, Town staff calculated, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are going from being a ghost town to a mini-state capital. Budget-wise, this is a windfall,” was the content of a text message seen being typed to the mayor.
Heather Carter, director of the La Conner Chamber of Commerce, was seen through the window of her office, calling restaurant owners, explaining the town’s good fortune. She was heard to discuss catering opportunities and voicing hope that the weather would cooperate. The ban on dining in continues, but meals will be served at the many picnic tables at the pocket parks between South First Street and the boardwalk.
The Capital source said he was told that plans were to have security gates at the Morris Street side of the roundabout and at the Pioneer Park entrance side of the Rainbow Bridge and that everyone entering would be tested for the coronavirus. “This is a real bonus not only to La Conner but for all Skagit County,” was the thinking.
An Inslee staff person supposedly said, off the record, that Mayor Ramon Hayes secured a promise of National Guard checkpoints as a condition of bringing the governor’s office to La Conner. “He wants every resident to have the same safety and security as the governor,” the source said Hayes reportedly told Inslee.”
“Hayes and the Town saw the hole blown in their budget with no tourists and no taxes. The fees he secured for leasing Town Hall and leasing properties for lodging was a big part of the Town reaching this agreement,” the source was said to have said.
The first trucks full of government equipment and residential furniture was scheduled for delivery Wednesday with staff and the governor planning a Friday arrival.
These rumors could not be confirmed as the paper went to press ahead of the April Fools Day printing.