Across the aisle

A fantastic thing occurred this week when people who can often be at odds with one another joined together to achieve a common goal.

An assemblage of local and federal elected officials from both sides of the aisle, environmentalists, tribal leaders, and others gathered at the site of the 100-year-old Chambers Creek dam to announce plans to remove the dam, restore the salmon run and renovate the bridge that connects two cities.

The agreement was years in the making, in part due to the many stakeholders and varied objectives that needed to be considered.

Many stakeholders came together to reach an agreement

I wish I could have attended the press conference to enjoy the celebration of collaboration and compromise.  But the County was well-represented by Don Anderson from the Executive Team and current Lakewood City Councilmember. In fact, as Congresswoman Strickland mentioned during her remarks, it was Don that brought to her the idea of removing the dam!

Don Anderson addresses the crowd

The special guest of the event was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She had just landed in the U.S. from her trip to the Ukraine to visit with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to offer our nation’s support and hear how we can help their valiant efforts to retain their democracy.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Representatives Strickland and Kilmer, and tribal leaders

I’m grateful she made time to come to Pierce County and shine a spotlight not only on our beautiful part of the country, but to lend her support to our shared bipartisan project. This kind of “across the aisle” collaboration is encouraging and at the heart of public service. Our residents ultimately benefit when we find ways to get to agreement and cooperation.

You can imagine how many people it takes to support an event like this.  My thanks to Alice McDaniel from the Executive Team for leading the effort, and to teams from Parks, Planning and Public Works, Facilities Management and Communications.  Well done, all!

And while all that was going on in Pierce County, I was up in Seattle at a memorial for former U.S. Senator, Washington State Attorney General, and State Representative Slade Gorton.  Slade was an exceptional public servant with many notable accomplishments to his name – like saving the Mariners!

However, this Celebration of Life for a Republican statesman also had a strong bipartisan flavor.  Two of those who gave powerful personal remembrances of Slade were former Governors Dan Evans and Christine Gregoire.  When Slade was Washington’s Attorney General he hired Gregoire fresh out of law school to work in his office!

As I close, I want to let you know about a new initiative that is starting soon. Thanks to the pandemic, over the last two years I’ve had to halt my habit of dropping in on departments and teams to hear what’s on your mind. I’ve missed those smaller group conversations and plan to meet with employee focus groups to get candid and unvarnished feedback from you.

Starting next month, I will be inviting small groups of random employees to join me at the CCB for an hour-long conversation. If you are selected to participate, I hope you will take me up on my invitation. I’ve already sent a note to directors and asked them to give you the time away to join me.  Your input means a great deal to me, and I always learn important insights from you.

In the meantime, we have an Employee Town Hall coming up on May 18.  I’ve already received several questions and I’d like to add yours!  You can submit your questions here.

Enjoy your weekend, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Thanks for reading,