The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.

Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
In Our View: The governor's legacy

Gregoire's inspired service

Inspired public servants aren't static thinkers. They evolve. After two terms, much of it undergirded by the Great Recession, Gov. Chris Gregoire gave expression to her progressive values while exhibiting the humility to change and the courage to countenance painful, executive choices.
Gregoire was also a punching bag for the right, and Gregoire punched back. As humorist Finley Peter Dunne wrote, politics ain't beanbag.
Gregoire's personal narrative informs her leadership style. Raised by a single working mom in Auburn, Gregoire shoe-leathered her way through the University of Washington and Gonzaga Law School. She married an Everett Seagull and Vietnam veteran. She distinguished herself as an assistant attorney general under Republican Slade Gorton and served as a thirtysomething director of the Washington Department of Ecology under Democratic Gov. Booth Gardner. She played a key role in Judge Jack Tanner's 1983 comparable worth decision and was instrumental in shepherding an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to clean up Hanford.
The zenith of her three terms as Washington's attorney general was leading the charge in the multibillion-dollar tobacco settlement. She was the Northwest's undisputed political phenom until the 2004 wing-clipping by Dino Rossi. That knife-thin win cast a pall, but Gregoire continued with her policy goals, grace (if not steel) under pressure. Gregoire's signature accomplishment, establishing a Department of Early Learning and emphasizing early learning as part of the seamless fabric of education, won't be fully appreciated for decades. Her greatest disappointment, a full-sale clean up of Puget Sound, will come to fruition but it, too, will take time.
An anemic economy undercut much of Gregoire's second term. Idealistic enough to push her programs, she was also clear-eyed enough to say no. In hindsight, she might have flagged the revenue question before this, her final budget. Here lies leadership's rub, alienating sometime allies and all-the-time opponents. Opponents derisively called her "Mrs. Gregoire," too incensed to employ her proper title. And make no mistake: Implicit as well as overt sexism is a crucible for women in public life. It's bipartisan, and it stings.
Gregoire's willingness to change her position on marriage equality is the salient example of her political evolution. It may rise justifiably to the top of her legacy list.
The popularity thermostat tracks with the economic climate. History will judge Gregoire's tenure unmarred by political bias. There is also time to build on an exemplary legacy. Gregoire would make an ideal pick to be the next director of the EPA. The governor has miles to go and much to give.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.


Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor:

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer:

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor:

Josh O'Connor, Publisher:

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we wonít ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet Classifieds