By David Anderson
Mike Carrell once said to me that “you either have character going into the legislature because you will not be developing nor cultivating it once you are there.”
Mike was nothing if not a man of character, a leader, a true statesman, a man of integrity, unwavering principle, a friend.
On May 29, 2013, in losing Senator Mike Carrell we not only lost all of the above but silenced was the voice of likely our strongest advocate for our tiny community of Tillicum.
Carrell was the only senator who spoke from the floor of the senate against the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) plan to run our community through with high speed trains, but he then followed up his principled stand by voting against the Transportation Budget for this reason alone.
In a letter to Governor Gregoire dated November 29, 2010, Carrell wrote, “As the Washington State Senator who represents the urban areas (mostly low income) that these high speed trains will be traveling through, with no grade separation between the trains and cars, I believe serious traffic and safety concerns exist that will create an unacceptable risk . . . all of this for a net time savings of only six minutes. This gain is insignificant and does not justify the problems it will cause . . . it doesn’t make sense to support financially expediting a small number of riders’ trips to Seattle and Portland when the financial need is so much greater elsewhere . . . with the current budget crises we are facing, I am deeply concerned and hope you understand my opposition to moving forward with this project at this time.”
Then on January 20, 2011, Senator Carrell wrote to WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond, “As State Senator for the 28th Legislative District, I have some serious concerns about the cost effectiveness of the Point Defiance Bypass Project.”
“Use that federal rail money to build more I-5 capacity”
On May 22, 2011, Senator Carrell, along with Senator Randi Becker, R – 2nd Legislative District (Eatonville), stated in the editorial headlined above, “We’ve written letters to Gov. Chris Gregoire, Washington’s U.S. congressional delegation and President Barack Obama, urging that the $780 million designated for the Lakewood Amtrak bypass be instead spent on adding an additional lane in each direction through the JBLM chokepoint on I-5.”
And now with a bridge out on I-5, our transportation life-line in seriously decrepit stages of disrepair, Senator Carrell’s message resonates even still.
But in addition to positions taken by voice and by vote — even sometimes a lone voice and overwhelmed by the vote — not only for his advocacy for community, far and away Mike mattered most of all for his admirable character. Because out of character, all else comes.
In his book “Man to Man,” pastor and speaker Chuck Swindol writes of his own father’s death and could just as well have been describing Mike:
“He left like he had lived. Quietly. Graciously. With dignity. Without demands or harsh words or even a frown, he surrendered himself – a tired, frail, humble gentleman – into the waiting arms of his Savior. Death, selfish and cursed enemy of man, won another battle. . . . Last night I realized I had him to thank for my deep love for America. And for knowing how to tenderly care for my wife. And for laughing at impossibilities. And for some of the habits I have picked up, like approaching people with a positive spirit rather than a negative one, staying with a task until it is finished, taking good care of my personal belongings, keeping my shoes shined, speaking up rather than mumbling, respecting authority, and standing alone (if necessary) in support of my personal convictions rather than giving in to more popular opinions. For these things I am deeply indebted to the man who raised me.”