Mayor's Message | Purpose

By Dave Earling | Aug 18, 2016

I recently got into a fairly long conversation with a friend talking about what keeps us going. The heart of the conversation came about because we are both employed at an age when many folks are retired or at least giving it serious consideration.

In truth, I recently waltzed through another birthday, and my friend is just a couple of years behind.

So what keeps us going?

For most, the reasons are diverse: family, profession, supplemental retirement income, volunteering, keeping body and mind healthy. You get the idea. The reasons we keep going are, in fact, many and varied.

I have spent a fair amount of time talking to others and thinking about this proposition. I believe the underlying theme which most of us follow in one simple word is “purpose.” I'm sure there are other single words or phrases others prefer, but for me, “purpose” rings true.

Purpose can be found in something as straightforward and uncomplicated as was the highlight of each day for my mother, when my dad walked through the door after work. You see, they had an amazing and uncomplicated relationship. In all of their years of marriage, I never heard them have an argument ... ever.

Dad walking through the door was simply a symbol of their purpose: devotion to one another.

So for many, family is their purpose. For others, it could be work. And for others, it's more than likely a combination of things.

A good friend of mine, Bob Drewel, of course has a great family as the core of his purpose. But beyond that, while he too could be retired, Bob has another purpose – he continues to be an amazing leader.

His personal style, sense of humor, grace and amazing instinct have led him to be president of Everett Community College, Snohomish County executive, chair of the Sound Transit board, executive director of the Puget Sound Regional Council. Most recently (in retirement?), he helped lead the charge to bring WSU to Snohomish County.

So we all have purpose – small, large, simple or complex. And those purposes can and do change.

Certainly my family and close friends rise to the top of my purpose list. Keeping an alert mind and staying in reasonably good physical condition are also distinct purposes for me.

But what else?

When I was recently out of town, a man walked by wearing a T-shirt, and on the front it read, “Leave it better than when you arrived.” That was an a-ha moment for me.

“Leave it better than when you arrived” might possibly be at the heart of purpose for most of us.

Whether it is our family, our profession, our philosophical or religious beliefs, special endeavors, or our community, we want to have contributed in some meaningful way and left things better than when we arrived.

To keep it relevant and meaningful to my purpose and the conversation, I want to leave this community better than when I arrived. I want Edmonds to be in a better place than when I took office in 2011.

I'm sure every mayor, from George Brackett forward, has desired to leave Edmonds, upon their exit, improved.

When I was sworn in, I told the crowd two immediate items needed attention: building a stronger financial position for the city, and for the citizens to have a better feeling about their community. (If you recall, our community was in a bit of turmoil in 2011.)

Although some may argue differently, the community definitely seems to feel better about itself than it did in 2011. We at the city have been successfully communicating with you with written columns, town halls, live broadcast of council meetings, project press releases, and through local news coverage.

We have let you know as best we can what the city is working on.

On the economic front, we are in much better financial position than in 2011, when hard financial cutbacks were made in my first year in office. Yet the improved economy and some important strategic decisions have provided a new, exciting sense of energy and vitality across the community.

In the next several days we will release the results of the National Citizen Survey in Edmonds. I hope you will take the time to read and understand the results of the survey, as it paints a clear picture of how the community feels about itself.

And the news is very good.

So, while we've successfully addressed the two main issues I had when taking office, there is still much more progress to be made – and many more things we can do to achieve our common purpose to leave it better.


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