Pierce County Executive, Bruce Dammeier blog post.
Back in February I decided to dive into a well-regarded series on the U.S. Navy in World War II – Ian W. Toll’s “The Pacific War Trilogy.”
Toll goes beyond the traditional look at the people, strategy and tactics of the battles. He gives important context by delving into what was happening on the home front, including the politics, war production, and the stresses on a wartime society. I am nearly halfway through the final book (“Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945) and the combined 2,200+ pages have been well worth it.
In the Fall of 1944, with nearly a year of brutal war still ahead, the end result was not really in doubt. The U.S. industrial output, by every measure, was dominating our enemies – and German and Japanese industries were being strategically bombed. We had 55 million people in our factories and 12 million in uniform. We were going to win; the question was when and at what human cost.
Many leaders in our government had started planning the transition from war back to peace. Think of the challenges! Soldiers returning to the U.S. would need jobs and homes. Women who played such a huge role in manufacturing planes and other weapons of war would suddenly be left without demand for their skills and service. All those tank and plane factories and shipyards needed to retool to deliver peacetime products. They were very concerned the transition would result in another economic depression. In hindsight, their planning efforts paid off!
While not as dramatic as World War II, we too have been at “war” with COVID.
Although we aren’t at the end of the pandemic, yet, we can see a path forward where we “normalize” COVID and it becomes part of everyday life, just like influenza and the common cold. We know it will likely be with us for a very long time and annual COVID shots may become part of our healthcare regimen. And while we don’t need to retool our economy for peacetime, we definitely need to overcome the Great Supply Chain Disruption!
So, how do we support our community and lead to a better future? Sadly, the things our residents needed pre-COVID are the same today, just magnified in size and scope.
We are focused on creating more, and more types, of housing. And for those who are housed but at risk of losing their homes, we need additional supports. Access to behavioral health care is more important than ever, as we all see and feel the impact of the pandemic. Working to keep our kids and teachers safely in school and learning remains important for everyone – especially parents. Creating career wage jobs that will move us forward and allow residents to work where they live continues to be an important priority. Lastly, ensuring our neighborhoods are safe and criminal justice is fairly and equitably administered challenges all of us.
My thanks to the Council for their consideration of the biennial budget I proposed last month. It was my goal to provide funds to address the priorities I’ve outlined. They are investing a great deal of time as they meet with department leaders and finalize the budget that will propel us forward.
We are still facing significant headwinds – both figuratively and literally – but I’m confident the planning we are doing today will help us find a smoother path to a brighter future.