By Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County Executive.
In the midst of the most divisive time in our history, the Civil War, after the bloodiest battle in our history, with over 50,000 combined casualties, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a 271-word address at the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg. His speech was exceptionally powerful and memorable, including one phrase that made an indelible mark on our collective consciousness, that our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Governing of, by and for the people is true at the national and county levels. The people of Pierce County choose our elected leaders, and our entire county team – both elected and not – exists to deliver key services for the people of our county. And we must carry out those responsibilities with the utmost integrity and transparency.
Elections are vital as they facilitate the will of the people. Candidates step forward and campaign. The voters discern and cast their ballots. And candidates “get hired” on Election Day. Once the voters have decided, those that are elected need to come together and govern for the people.
This past year has been one of the most contentious in my memory. While we have seen peaceful protests, we have also witnessed horribly violent riots.
This past week, we watched in horror as thugs and rioters tried to disrupt the peaceful transition of our government – an absolute core tenet of our government.
The unimaginable, violent takeover of our nation’s Capitol rightly provoked shock and anger. I was disgusted at the attack and angered at what it stood for – not in my America. I pray that we can soon begin the process of healing. I’m thankful that the members of Congress had the presence of mind to resume their important work later that night and into the early morning.
I congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their successful election and join with our fellow citizens in wishing them well on their important work for our country.
Closer to home, I also want to congratulate the newest members to the Pierce County Council. They were sworn-in Monday morning in what was a very important yet socially distanced ceremony.
Councilmember Hans Zeiger, from the 2nd District, brings strong state legislative experience to the Council, where I have served with him for six years. Councilmember Amy Cruver, from the 3rd District, brings eight years of experience in our County Council Office, before becoming an elected official. Councilmember Ryan Mello has served on both the Metro Parks Board and the Tacoma City Council before representing the 4th District. Finally, Councilmember Jani Hitchen, representing the 6th District, comes to the Council bringing a fresh perspective from teaching in the Bethel School District. In addition, on Tuesday the Council elected their new leaders and I want to congratulate Council Chair Derek Young, Vice Chair Dave Morell, and Executive Pro Tem Marty Campbell. I look forward to working collaboratively with all the Councilmembers in the weeks and months ahead.
Thankfully, the voters also decided they wanted me to continue as Executive for a second term and I will be sworn-in at a small ceremony next week. Details to come and I hope you will take a moment to join me, virtually.
With that, the new Council and I will focus on the important work the voters expect of us: that is, to work together in 2021 and beyond, for the benefit for all the people of our County.
First published on the Pierce County website.