Shorecrest Student Wins Open Government Essay Prize.

Shorecrest Student Wins Open Government Essay Prize

Emory Hoelscher-Hull of Shorecrest High School has won the 2019 Scott Johnson Open Government Essay Competition, administered by the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

“What is ‘open government’ to me, and why should it matter to my generation?” is the 2019 topic of the contest. Hoelscher-Hull will receive a $1,000 prize funded by Stokes Lawrence law firm, Seattle. The Shorecrest senior will enroll in Montana State University in the fall, studying environmental science.

The contest is intended to help to educate young people about the importance of open government principles, and honors the memory of Scott Johnson, a former WCOG board member and attorney with Stokes Lawrence.

Twenty-seven public and private high school students from all parts of the state submitted entries. Hoelscher-Hull’s essay was titled, “The Importance of Open Government in the Fight Against Climate Change.” She wrote:

“Despite the many other things my generation may disagree on, preserving our home seems to be the one thing young people are united over. We can, and will, solve the climate issue. We can do this by increasing transparency in climate data to promote education and collaboration, and by ensuring accountability in governmental decisions surrounding climate change.”

The contest judges cited the winning essay for demonstrating substantial research and writing with passion and clarity that members of her generation should care about open government.  She built her case on the potentially devastating effects of climate change that may unfold during the lifetimes of her generation and its children. Only with full access to public and scientific information, she contended, can good decisions be made.

“Few other entrants made such a convincing argument,” wrote contest judge Fred Obee, executive director of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

David Seago, former WCOG board member and retired editorial page editor of The News Tribune in Tacoma, chaired the judging. Other judges were Obee and board members Dale Phelps, editor and vice president of news for The News Tribune; and Mike Fancher, retired executive editor of The Seattle Times.

Scott A.W. Johnson passed away unexpectedly in 2012 at age 53. Raised in Cheney and Olympia, he graduated from Olympia High School, received his undergraduate degree in Business from the University of Washington and his J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law. His 26 years of practicing law began at Perkins Coie followed by almost two decades as a partner at Stokes Lawrence.

He worked on the Board of Washington Coalition for Open Government and was to be sworn in as a King County Superior Court Judge in January 2013, fulfilling a lifelong dream.