The Governor’s policy advisor and legislative liaison, Ted Sturdevant, is stepping away from politics. Sturdevant, who also ran the Department of Ecology under Christine Gregoire, has decided it’s time for something new. It’s a welcome change to see. While running the DOE not only did Sturdevant side with the net pen industry over the controversial regulations of the Shoreline Master Program in Jefferson County, he claimed total ignorance of the issue when I talked to him not long before he left that post. This after years of contentious battles between the Jefferson County Commissioners, especially Phil Johnson, who met with him on a number of occasions to discuss finding a way out of the impasse. That he was then put in a key policy advisory role for the new Governor was extremely disappointing. My perspective on him is that he either was simply an out of touch senior administrator or purposely deceptive to being in favor of allowing net pens wherever in the Sound they could be implemented. No doubt he’ll be back, folks who have run larger bureaucracies surface in other political bureaucracies or in the ranks of lobbyists that get hired to come back in the revolving door. Now we will better see what the governor’s newly hired coal lobbyist is going to offer. Sturdevant’s replacement at Ecology, Maia Bellon, essentially ignored the Jefferson County Commissioners that went to see her.
The issue that Ted and others at the State level have so clearly shown over the last few years, is that they are the first to run to the doors of those of us in the towns and counties who are working the hardest to make the real change happen, to implement laws and get them enforced. When these pols want money to get elected, or seek support for appointment they show up. But after the elections have died down, the same folks tend to conveniently miss appointments, or shun our elected officials when they come to see them. They become more interested in some middle of the road situation, even when the opposing parties don’t the slightest intention of meeting anyone halfway. Like Maia Bellon, they tend to view us as a possible lawsuit in waiting, or just an aggravation to their day. Given the stalemate in government today, it would be quite more refreshing to see people such as Ted Sturdevant actually stand for implementing grass roots requests for improvement in the ecology, rather than bureaucratic stalemate. He and these others just might find that the grassroots are much more likely to support their efforts, when we aren’t fighting the very people we helped elect to implement progressive policies.
Here’s his resignation letter.
Dear legislators, I want to let you know that I’ve made the difficult decision to leave the Governor’s Office, effective June 30. You, more than most, understand how demanding these jobs are, and I’ve decided it’s time for a different pace and a different work-life balance. I know I’ll take the summer to catch up with family, friends and life in general. After that, we’ll see. But I hope we cross paths again as we work in our different ways for this wonderful state. I am a wholehearted supporter of Gov. Inslee’s values and vision for Washington, and I’m sure I’ll find a new way to contribute to realizing that vision. I leave knowing the Governor’s Policy Office is in good hands. We have developed a terrific group of policy advisors, and I am thrilled that Matt Steuerwalt has recently joined the team as Policy Director. Matt has the integrity, experience and talent to lead that strong team. As we bring on a new legislative director in the coming weeks to work with you all, the Governor will have a great team to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead. On a personal note, I first volunteered for a local campaign in Oregon almost 35 years ago, and I took my first job with the Oregon Legislature just shy of 30 years ago. I have seen such change in that time, and most of it has made the job of being an elected official more difficult. The pace, the money, the shrinking media, the permanent campaign, the lack of privacy, public disclosure (oh that’s right, you don’t have that!) – if it weren’t for the enormous salaries you earn (that’s right, you don’t have those either!), I don’t know how you do it. I have an enormous amount of respect for those of you who are willing to surmount those obstacles and make the sacrifices required to serve the state as elected leaders. I have even more respect for those of you who do the hard and risky work of balancing the necessities of partisanship with the opportunities found in collaboration and compromise. So many sustainable solutions are available when we choose that path.
Thanks for all you do for this state and the people and values you represent. It’s been a real honor to work with you.
All the best, Ted