Past President Commissioner Obie O’Brien shares some insights about being the president of WSAC during the 2016 calendar year. Commissioner Blair Brady was elected in November to take over the role of WSAC President for the 2017 calendar year. The following was written by Commissioner O’Brien.
As I look back over a very quick 12 months I am reminded how much the staff of WSAC was working hard behind the scenes; Hero’s all. I will choose to not call out individuals at the risk of leaving out someone who really should be recognized. Thank you to all of you.
This was the year that Eric Johnson was also the National President of his organization. He is a very special person and consummate professional that puts a really good face on our organization.
The role of WASC President has been handed over to Commissioner Blair Brady. I have come to enjoy his friendship and companionship. He will be a really good President for WSAC. In getting to know others in leadership, I am humbled to be a part of great people doing hard work. They are dear friends.
This year WSAC has had to make hard decisions regarding a Litigation and Communication Strategy. This is not something we do lightly. However, “we have to stand together, or we will hang separately.” We are in a time where hard decisions have to be made. The strength of WSAC is in having a common voice and singular message when we bring issues to our representatives in Olympia.
As for my experiences this last year I will share that meeting with the western state Presidents and Executive Directors was surprising in that we have such a diverse environment with so much in common. As it turns out people are people wherever they live, and many of the issues are the same from Alaska to Montana. The issues of active forest management came out loud and clear from them as well as for us. The burden of having their state government hand off their duties to the counties without adequate funding is also a common concern.
When Eric and I were able to visit the counties, the goal was to listen to the local issues and look for commonalities that could be addressed by the association. I enjoyed seeing the many courthouses (all of them looked better than mine) and meeting the commissioners that often stayed home to mind the store when only one could come to WSAC meetings. The level of commitment to our citizens is impressive. I again saw that many issues were common to all of us. One of the biggest was the lack of revenue to be able to address the needs of county government. Providing legal defense for people who couldn’t pay, keeping the roads and bridges safe for commerce and travel, finding ways encourage economic growth and opportunities for family wage jobs seem to be things we all struggle with.
Going Washington DC and meeting with our national leaders was a high point for this year. If you haven’t been to DC, I cannot encourage you enough to experience it. I even found Kittitas County Lace Gold in the Smithsonian Museum. That was unexpected and humbling.
Although North Carolina in July is not the best time to be there, NACo was a good trip. I was able to represent WA and WSAC on the Technology and Telecommunications Comm. Harkening back to my vocation at the University before Elected office we looked at Cyber Security and Standards for keeping our networks online. Sitting in on the Immigration Committee allowed for making sure a WA voice was present while they were considering workforce and economic impacts of immigration.
In closing, I will advise that any commissioner that has interest in a WASC leadership role should step up. The rewards far exceed the time and costs. WASC is our organization, and we all need to be as active as possible to get the best results in Olympia and DC.
Thank you all for your support and kindnesses.
WSAC Past President
Kittitas County Commissioner