After the Tacoma City Club candidate forum, people praised Mark’s presentation. Some asked for a copy of his closing statement, which focused on the need for civility and integrity in our public dialogue. Mark doesn’t use notes when he speaks, so the text below is not 100% accurate, but it’s close and approved by Mark.
I’m going to wrap up with three quick stories, snapshots really.
A few years ago I was in a parking lot with my wife Chelsea and a woman I didn’t recognize approached me. She said, “I know you.”
Neither Chelsea or I could tell where this was going.
The woman continued, “You prosecuted my boyfriend.”
Not knowing what to say, I said hello.
She said, “The judge hammered him, like ten years.”
As I stood there listening, I was thinking, well, at least she partly blames the judge.
But she went on to tell me that while her boyfriend was in prison for assaulting her, she got her life together. She found a job, her kids enrolled in a school they liked, life was good. She just wanted to let me know and express her gratitude.
I hear stories like this pretty often. These moments remind me what our work in the Prosecutor’s Office is truly about.
Do people remember Lee Atwater? He was the campaign manager for the George H.W. Bush and semi-famous for using misinformation, general meanness, and “naked cruelty” in politics. Naked cruelty was his own phrase. On his deathbed, he deeply regretted this. He came to believe our politics needed to be more civil and spiritual. That was in 1991.
Recently I was speaking with a gentleman who spent more than 40 years in public service. He was lamenting how nasty and negative our politics have become, the worst he has ever seen. Now he’s done. He left me with the notion that it’s up to us, those of us still in the arena, to turn this trend around.
And it is up to us, all of us, public servants and citizens alike, to elevate the dialogue. If we endeavor to improve our politics, and therefore our country and our communities, we need to rise above the mire and treat each other civilly, honestly, and respectfully.
Robert F. Kennedy said we all want basically the same thing: to live our lives in purpose and happiness and raise our families in safety. As your Prosecutor, I’ll continue to focus on making that possible in Pierce County. Thank you.