There seems to be a greater practice in this country, lately, to criticize our leaders.
It is not so in other countries around the world. It could get you killed or, at least, you may spend some quality time looking out between steel bars. When I was in Thailand and visited the Prince’s Palace, we were cautioned not to speak ill of the prince or the country’s leadership.
In the Navy, we learned from the very first to totally respect the chain of command. Not to do so may cause lost time with operations or lost lives.
In our Land of the Free, we have a way to take care of problems, and that is with a vote. Everything is “of the people, by the people and for the people.” And, as we have witnessed throughout 2½ centuries in this country, it works well.
We have good people in America, and we have a portion of those good people here in Kent. We have been blessed to contain a good smattering of these type of people in our leadership ranks. It is nice to have leaders who are intelligent, with good sense and integrity. We seem to have lucked out on all points.
I was photographing a Kent Chamber of Commerce’s Meet the Candidates event a few years ago and watched two young candidates running for the same City Council position. They both ran an election with honesty and integrity and spoke from abilities, direction and boosted each other almost as though they were running for, instead of against each other. It was a treat to watch them at the meeting and also in following months as they ran their individual campaigns.
The experience influenced me to watch other campaigns and elected officials in Kent. One noticeable campaign in the past involved our current mayor, Suzette Cooke, who will be retiring from office this month. Any criticism always seemed to come from an outsider who really just wanted to grumble. And what a good mayor she has been. She kept us from floating away by helping to build some dikes to take the worry out of our future.
There was seldom a new business opening anywhere in Kent that our mayor wasn’t there to welcome the owners and customers to the community. She regularly attended events put on by the chamber, the Kent Downtown Partnership and the community that are too many to list.
Madam mayor, we owe you a great debt of gratitude for all the work and personal attention you have invested in our town.
Back to the two dueling campaigners of yesteryear. “He” – Dennis Higgins – made it to that council seat, she didn’t. But then she ran again with his help, and she got a place. They worked side-by-side because we, in Kent, seem to have a City Council whose members actually respect each other, like us and strive to make this city, against big odds, a wonderful place to live and raise kids.
The “she” of this story is what they call “mayor-elect.” She is Dana Ralph, and she is our new mayor. What an honest, hard-working gem she is. And best of all, “we” will all benefit.
Don Dinsmore, a Navy veteran and longtime Kent resident, regularly contributes to the Kent Reporter.