To understand John Lovick, the newly appointed Snohomish County Executive, is to recall the presence of those, seen and unseen, at his 2008 swearing in as county sheriff.
In the audience at Cascade High School that January day was his then-96-year old grandmother, ballast for a large Louisiana family. There was former Washington State Patrol Chief Will Bachofner, who mentored Lovick and insisted he not quit. Lovick, a promising WSP recruit and Coast Guard veteran, had lousy driving skills. “We didn’t have a car to practice on growing up,” Lovick explained at the time.
There was his son Jeff, an L.A. cop, who told the gathering that his father was a good dad and a good friend. Lovick stood watching, wiping away tears.
And there were his team of rivals, his vanquished political opponents, Tom Greene and Rob Beidler, both appointed to serve on his command staff.
Beidler spoke about the moment he sat down at Lovick’s kitchen table while the lawmaker prepared him breakfast.
“I went back to my car, and I didn’t want to like him, but I did,” Biedler said. He then addressed the deputies and other Sheriff’s Department staff. “You don’t know him, but you know me. John is a good guy.”
In the wake of the Reardon implosion, Snohomish County needs a good guy, someone with integrity, foresight and judgment. Lovick has the goods to deliver. Monday’s appointment vote was unanimous.
“I want to change the tone and tenor of county government. It’s about the people. The Snohomish County Executive’s Office is the people’s office and it’s all about serving the people,” Lovick said.
Lovick’s appointments will telegraph his judgment. The next deputy executive is likely to be Mark Ericks, the current U.S. marshal for Western Washington. It’s an inspired pick, a harbinger of a leadership style predicated upon competence and integrity. Ericks, a former Bothell police chief and state legislator, is a delightful paradox: A law-and-order professional passionate about both civil and human rights. It’s a description that extends to his future boss.
The new-era goodwill should last for a few weeks, but Lovick is already focused on next steps. His portfolio includes an operating budget of more than $200 million and leading 2,600 employees. He oversees several key departments, including planning, public works, the airport at Paine Field, human services, parks, the medical examiner and human resources.
Lovick will replace many of the Reardon crew, while emphasizing performance over politics. Good. Chief Bachofner, who died at age 92 later that year, would be proud.