The U.S. presidency had the Bushes and Adamses, but Redmond has its own local leadership family dynasty: the Marchiones.
Doreen Marchione, who passed away last week, served as Redmond mayor from 1984 to 1991. And her son John will step down after completing his third term later this year.
With primary election for local races on Tuesday, it’s fitting to reflect on the service of Marchione and the legions of other civic-minded people willing to serve in sometimes thankless local offices.
The first Mayor Marchione relished both the privilege and the pain of serving her community, solving problems and assuaging angry constituents, remembers Deborah Akerstrom, the former editor of the now-defunct Sammamish Valley News, who covered her tenure and became a friend.
“She was so balanced that she had friends on every side of the street. She always put the city first,” she said.
Candidates running for local offices on the council, school board or for mayor are my favorite politicians. Too often the job is thankless and even unpleasant. City council members are in your kitchen with decisions about zoning and permitting policy. School board members are in your child’s classroom with decisions about math curriculum. Fire district commissioners are making decisions that affect not only your safety but your homeowners insurance premiums.
This is the hard work of government — officials stealing time from their families to tackle the mundane, including balancing budgets, and the dramatic with neighborhoods warring over growth. Months can pass with little public controversy and then something — say the site of a proposed homeless shelter — can ignite the phone trees, petitions and hollering from the podium.
Doreen Marchione would delight in telling a story about a confrontation with a constituent in the Safeway near Bear Creek Park, Akerstrom said, laughing probably as hard as when she first heard it. A venerable community, activist who disagreed with the city’s direction on growth and the old golf course, grabbed the mayor’s cart and began pushing both the mayor and cart backward, making her very passionate points about rampant development encroaching on Redmond’s bucolic way of life. And that was when the city, which would become the home of Microsoft, had only one stoplight downtown.
Marchione lost her third election for mayor, but her servant’s heart would not rest. She led Hopelink, an Eastside and North King County charity that helps low-income families and families experiencing homelessness, for 15 years. Later, after she moved, she served fellow residents on the Kirkland City Council for eight years, including two as deputy mayor.
Those who show up like Marchione — first knocking at your door and asking for your vote and then for those meetings to take the heat — deserve our gratitude. Their willingness to serve is exquisite.
And that is where you come in, readers.
Tuesday is Washington’s election primary for most local government positions. These odd year elections have notoriously poor turnout and the primary, in the middle of summer, even poorer. King County elections officials are projecting that only 36 percent of registered voters will cast ballots in these important races, affecting your kitchen, your classroom and your insurance premiums.
Local public servants invest hundreds of hours in your interest, agree with them or not. At the very least, voters, steal a relatively few minutes to consider the candidates and issues on your ballot. And please vote.
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