Opinion

McBride says goodbye after more than two decades of service | Editorial

McBride celebrated her final City Council meeting with members of her family. - Contributed photo
McBride celebrated her final City Council meeting with members of her family.
— image credit: Contributed photo

The Kirkland City Council discussed many important issues during a special meeting on Dec. 10 at City Hall. It was the last meeting until the new year and many loose ends were tied up. The new year will bring new issues, a new Council member and a new mayor.

The meeting was also the last time that Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride will sit at the dais. McBride has served the residents of Kirkland in many different capacities in public service for more than two decades.

McBride has served on the City Council since 1998. She has served as mayor since 2010, was deputy mayor for eight years, but was also on the Lakeview PTA and the Houghton Community Council. She has lived in Kirkland since she was nine years old.

She has helped to steer the city through political upheaval and scandals during the latter part of the last decade. She then pushed forward an ethics policy and code of conduct to make sure the issues never dog the Council again. She was the picture of civility at a time when others were anything but civil.

Other big issues the Council tackled during McBride’s tenure include an annexation that nearly doubled the city’s size, the South Kirkland Park & Ride Transit Oriented Development and the acquisition of the BNSF rail line through Kirkland to make way for the Cross Kirkland Corridor.

She has shown strong leadership with the Totem Lake revitalization plan and has also helped to successfully guide the city through one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history. She is not responsible for these projects but she did help to push them forward and maintain a civil discussion every step of the way.

Councilwoman Amy Walen said of McBride: “Joan brings her kind heart and sense of humor to everything she does. She runs our meetings efficiently and professionally, and guides us through our differences gracefully. Even when we are on opposite sides of an issue, she is gracious and respectful of my point of view.”

Councilwoman Penny Sweet said: “When Joan stepped into her role as mayor of Kirkland she made a mighty transition as a leader and as the face of Kirkland. She has been a shining force for our city  and we are  better for her service.” Rep. Larry Springer said:  “Every community needs a conscience.  Joan McBride has been Kirkland’s to assure that this community values everyone.”

That favorable view extends to city staff as well.

“Joan McBride has always been one of the most passionate advocates for Kirkland that this region has ever seen. Joan truly loves the city and would lobby anyone, go anywhere and do anything to protect and enhance the quality of life that we cherish here,” City Manager Kurt Triplett said.

McBride has also been a big supporter of the business community. McBride gave one of her first speeches as mayor to the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce in January of 2010. In that speech she said “Kirkland is open for business,” something that would become her economic mantra.

“Joan and I have collaborated on lots of ribbon cuttings this year. She always makes the business owner feel special and valued,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bruce Wynn. “... Her charisma makes her so likeable and her vision for the future of Kirkland is inspiring.”

But her endeavors as a public servant go beyond business and government.

“Joan has been a tireless fan of the arts, both on a civic level and on a personal level,” said Kathy Feek, who works with many arts organizations in the city. “She ‘gets it’ that the arts make us all better people, while also enriching Kirkland as a community in every way. Thank you, Joan!”

McBride has also been the picture of professionalism with the media. She has been very accessible on the hot-button issues the council has tackled, such as Potala Village, the Parkplace redevelopment and the effort to dissolve the Houghton Community Council.

"Every single time I called Joan's cell phone to ask her about something going on in the city or for a quote, she picked up," said Carrie Rodriguez, former editor of the Reporter for more than five years. "But beyond her responsiveness, Joan truly cares for Kirkland and for others. Her compassion shows and it's what makes Joan so special."

She has been yet another strong female member of Kirkland leadership and one that Kirkland’s first female mayor, Doris Cooper, would be very proud of.

“Joan is an amazing woman. She has been a great leader for Kirkland,” said Kirkland Deputy Mayor and former Redmond mayor Doreen Marchione. “Joan wants Kirkland to be the best city in the state to live, work and play. She has been a champion for the environment, transportation and keeping Kirkland a very livable, walkable community. Joan is thoughtful, articulate and has a great sense of humor. It has been a wonderful experience to work with her these past four years.”

But she also genuinely cares about people. She always asks about your family and how you are outside of work and politics. We can only hope that the council chooses another strong leader with compassion and drive. But there is only one Joan McBride and we thank you for your leadership and service to our community.

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