For some political junkies, election night is their favorite night of the year. I prefer the day after, when the candidates make their acceptance and concession speeches.
These post-election speeches are usually the most gracious and heartfelt expressions a political candidate has uttered since his/her campaign began. When they are eloquent and sincere, they provide a salve to heal the often mean-spirited and hurtful attacks made during the heat of a close race.
A candidate’s initial words can either continue to spotlight our differences or bring us back together for a common cause. Many politicians today still use the best-ever concession line, spoken by Adlai Stevenson, who was defeated twice by war hero Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. He said: “What unites us is deeper than what divides us.”
The most moving post-election speech in Thurston County this year came not from a candidate, not from someone who won or lost. It came from someone leaving office on his own accord.
Retiring Sheriff Dan Kimball watched for months as two colleagues engaged in a bitter contest to replace him. The supporters of John Snaza and Debbie Mealy made assorted personal attacks during the campaign that had the potential to leave the sheriff’s office in chaos no matter who won the vote.
But Kimball wrote a letter to all Sheriff’s Department employees on Wednesday, asking for their help and professionalism. Here’s some of what he said.
“As we put another election behind us, I wanted to take a moment and comment on the future and the critical need for unity within our office. It is a reality that we all work in an elected office ... that does not mean it comes without potential negative consequences. One of those is the incredible stress that elections can cause on really good people who have worked together for years in service to the community. Of all jobs, that of law enforcement requires a bond of trust between all of the people who participate in this profession. That is for our own safety as well as for the safety of the citizens we serve.
“Elections are hard. Good, well-intended people may take oppositional positions that risk damaging the long-held bond of trust that is the foundation of our mission. We are all human and thus experience a myriad of emotions, both in victory and in defeat. There is nothing wrong with that.
“... But here is the ultimate reality: the great people who work here, whether it be commissioned or non-commissioned staff, owe it to each other and to the citizens to mend those disappointments and to continue doing the hard work that is required of all of us. In unity we will be strong and effective as an office. When riven with dissent or disappointment that lingers we will be weakened and much less effective.
“I know you will all do what is right, because that is who you are.”
Almost 1,000 readers took a survey about The Olympian’s mobile news feed and entered to win an iPad. We’ll be announcing the winner this week. ... The Olympian’s editorial board, which includes two community representatives, endorsed 23 of the 26 candidates and issues that won a majority of the vote in Thurston County. It’s a way we like to gauge our synchronicity with the community. ... Thanks to those who sent me names for my Thurston All-Stars. We’ll be honoring “extra-ordinary” people who think they’re doing nothing special, but who really are quite special. Keep the names coming. ... The Washington Coalition for Open Government is hosting a forum featuring many high-profile panelists, including Attorney General Rob McKenna from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357-0206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.