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Guest commentary / Congressman Norm Dicks


His service touched the entire state

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By Paul Roberts
Published:
Thanks, Norm.
The U.S. Constitution provides two senators to represent each state. Arguably, Washington state has had three senators for many years, thanks to the remarkable career of Rep. Norm Dicks.
At the end of this year, Norm will have served 36 years in office representing the 6th Congressional District, which includes Bremerton (Norm's hometown), Tacoma and the Olympic Peninsula. But Dicks' service touches the whole of Washington, including Everett.
Earlier this month, Dicks announced he would not seek re-election, choosing instead to retire. In his words: "We want to enjoy life at a different pace. ... We just decided we had a good run."
Norm is a class act and will be greatly missed by the people of the 6th District and all of Washington. He will go out at the top of his game.
Norm serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and will leave Congress as the ranking Democrat on that committee. Over the course of his career, he has served on the Defense, Interior and Military Construction Appropriation subcommittees.
Before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1976, Dicks was an aide and chief of staff to Sen. Warren G. Magnuson. Dicks honed his craft as a legislator working for "Maggie," and with Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, and all of Washington's congressional delegation, regardless of party affiliation.
Dicks built bridges to somewhere. He worked on things that mattered, for national defense, the environment and the economy. He built bridges across the partisan divide as well. He was not afraid of compromise, it was how business was done. He put the nation's interests first, using his great sense of humor, good will and remarkable work ethic to serve and inspire all around him.
His special expertise on matters of defense, environment and the economy resulted in major developments in our state. In the 6th District, he supported the Puget Sound Naval Shipyards, Joint Base Lewis McChord and the Trident submarine base. He and Sen. Jackson were the driving forces in building Madigan Medical Center, which serves our nation's men and women in uniform.
Outside of the 6th District, Dicks was just as effective. Examples include helping Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor. Norm was a champion of funding for cleaning up Puget Sound, salmon recovery and cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. He supported funding for cities and expanding national parks and wilderness areas and worked with all the state's tribal governments.
In Everett, he worked with Sen. Jackson, Rep. Al Swift and later Rep. Rick Larsen, who now serves on the House Armed Services Committee, to build -- and keep building -- Naval Station Everett. Dicks developed relationships with the local communities to strengthen the naval presence throughout Puget Sound, including defending Washington bases through five rounds of review by the Base Realignment And Closure Commission. He was on a first-name basis with every Everett mayor, from Bob Anderson and Bill Moore to Ray Stephanson.
Working with Sen. Patty Murray and our delegation, Dicks played a key role to help win the battle to build Air Force refueling tankers in the United States -- 767s built at Boeing's Everett plant. During the competition to build the 787, he helped encourage Boeing corporate leadership to keep aerospace jobs in Washington and assemble the 787 in Everett.
Dicks understands the importance of jobs, not only to the state's economy, but to working men and women and their families. "Norm Dicks Works for Jobs" was his slogan for every campaign he ran and he meant it. Growing up in Bremerton, he had legitimate blue collar roots that helped him keep perspective while in the other Washington.
The legacy Norm Dicks leaves is considerable. His shoes will be hard to fill. For those who worked with him, and who know of his accomplishments, there is much gratitude. Thanks for the years of service, and for fostering the art of compromise and civility.
Thanks, Norm, for a good run.

Paul Roberts, a member of the Everett City Council, served as Rep. Norm Dicks' chief of staff from 1981 to 1986.

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