By Chris Hendrickson, contributing writer
Snohomish County Executive John Lovick gave his state-of-the-county address at the Sultan City Council meeting last week.
Lovick, who was unanimously appointed by Snohomish County Council to the Executive position last June, will run for the seat in a special election to be held later this year. His appointment was the result of the resignation of his predecessor, Aaron Reardon. Prior to that, Lovick served as the Snohomish County Sheriff, first elected in 2007. Lovick was on his second term as sheriff when he transitioned over to the Executive’s office.
Lovick, who served with the United States Coast Guard for 13 years, also spent 31 years as a Washington State Patrol Trooper, earning Trooper of the Year in 1992. His political career began in Mill Creek as a councilmember where he served for five years, including one year as mayor pro tem. He then moved on to the Washington State Legislature in 1997, representing the 44th District. Reelected four times, Lovick served in the legislature for a total of nine years.
Lovick expressed motivation and hope as he shared with Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick and the members of Sultan City Council his ideas for the upcoming months and years in Snohomish County. He also talked about where they’ve been, and acknowledged the difficulties with which citizens have been faced with respect to the recent economic downturn.
“We’re not back yet, and the recovery has been a lot slower than we had hoped that it would be,” said Lovick. “But we’re still working hard together as a community, and I believe that we’re going to make it work.”
He stated that one of his top priorities has been, and will continue to be, the creation of new jobs in the county. He said that, when he took the oath of office last June, many people inquired as to what his area of focus was going to be as the county executive.
“I told them that my focus was going to be on safe schools, good, safe roads, and jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Lovick.
He spoke of Boeing’s recent announcement that they will build the 777X in Everett. He expressed that he was greatly pleased at the airplane manufacturer’s decision, but also acknowledged that the machinists went through a difficult process to help ensure that the manufacturing facilities were to remain here in the region.
“They sacrificed quite a bit to make sure that happened,” said Lovick.
He shared that he wants to make sure that the job market in Snohomish County can begin to extend beyond the aerospace industry. He recently hired an Economic Development Director named Sean Connell who he has asked to start networking with communities, working with them to produce effective marketing strategy for products and services exclusive to Snohomish County.
He commended Mayor Eslick for her work with GROW Washington, a nonprofit organization which helps develop and support new entrepreneurs as they learn to operate their own businesses. Located in Snohomish and Sultan, GROW Washington just recently opened a third storefront in Everett.
He said that Everett will be hosting a new farmers’ market beginning in 2015, which will be located on Grand Avenue.
“They’re going to create a lot of jobs by having that farmers’ market in our county,” said Lovick.
He also said that he plans on working to achieve a strong transportation network of safer roads.
Lovick stated that, as the county executive, he feels it’s his responsibility to support both the youth in the community, as well as the senior citizens.
“I don’t go a single day without thinking about a great quote from former Vice President Hubert Humphrey where he said, ‘The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life; the children, those who are in the twilight of life; the elderly, and those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the handicapped and the needy,’” said Lovick.
One of the programs Lovick has implemented since taking office is called Safe Kids, Improved Pathways, otherwise known as SKIP. SKIP is dedicated to bridging gaps in pedestrian pathways surrounding the county’s 34 elementary schools. The program’s intention is to create safe and connected walking areas for children who walk to school every day. He said that they will be dedicating $500,000 per year to SKIP to aid in the construction of sidewalks in these communities.
Lovick also shared that he wants to work towards finding an effective solution for county residents afflicted with mental illness. He has facilitated the creation of a task force comprised of 13 mental health professionals who will be making recommendations to the county on what they can do to better care for that sector of the population.
Additionally, he wants to continue to work on finding ways to work closely with state legislators so that they are able to affect the types of policy needed as far as transportation issues, land use, and other items pertaining to the future of Snohomish County.
Lastly, Lovick spoke of county accountability and his new appointment of John Koster as the Snohomish County Ombudsman. As the ombudsman, Koster will work to represent the interests of the public by addressing and investigating complaints against Snohomish County administration.
“Let me explain a little about John Koster,” said Lovick. “If you put John Koster and John Lovick in a room together, politically, we wouldn’t agree on a single thing.”
“That’s just the way it is. But positions like that are not partisan,” he continued. “When you talk about the quality of the man that we placed in that position, it’s not a partisan issue.”
He gave a humorous account of an exchange that took place during Koster’s appointment to the ombudsman position, when Lovick reminded him that during his tenure as a Washington State Legislator, Koster voted against his signature piece of legislation.
“My signature legislation when I served in the legislature was my seatbelt bill,” said Lovick. “And he voted against it.”
Lovick stated that Koster is an excellent fit for the county ombudsman position because he is fair, firm, honest and demanding.
“But most importantly, he cares tremendously about this community and he is making a huge difference in helping us with what I am calling the healing process,” said Lovick.
Lovick ended his presentation by thanking council for allowing him to visit and offering to answer questions.
“I am so very, very happy that I live in this great county,” said Lovick. “I am honored and humbled, beyond words, to be Snohomish County Executive. And I am most proud to be an American.”