Twenty-three years ago on New Year's Eve, I received a phone call from then Senator Kent Pullen (R-47). Just days before session...he called to ask me if I would be his legislative aide. I will never forget that call.
I was a mother of five and a political activist...and yes...community organizer.
I remember being asked to speak before a small group at the Maple Valley Library. Kent had preceded me with his remarks and then left. I got up to speak. I really have only one mode...passion. I speak with passion because I have confidence and conviction. Inside there is a sense of fearlessness. My mother says I have always been that way.
Following Kent's lead when I was done...I left! (I don't do that now.) And there was Pullen outside the door. He had been listening to what I was saying. It was his first introduction to who I was.
A couple of years after that I went for a 4 1/2 year stint with the U.S. Post Office. My husband had been riffed at the old Auburn Globe News (1980) and I worked as a night-shift employee (part-time flex)to keep us going. I held a teaching credential but a job in hand is what I took. It meant I went in at 1 AM and stayed mostly 8 hours a night and did it five or six days a week. While there I became a union steward. I came home to five children. The youngest was 6 weeks old when I went to work. Two of those years I was a window clerk...selling stamps and such. I wanted the night shift (sorting mail by hand) so I could be home with my children during the day. But I had no choice in going to days.
Jim left newspaper advertising and got on with the post office. We were on our own. No one helping us and we needed stability.
And then something happened. I felt there was something more for me to do. I wanted to work with youth and make a difference. I wanted to get back to my community activities. I had been working all the overtime I could. The money was needed. But, there was something else for me in life. I quit the post office. It was late 1985.
I called Kent Pullen. We had spoken only once in my years at the post office when he came to buy stamps. I told him I was leaving the post office and asked him what I could do to get back into politics. He offered me a small lobbying job for Citizen Taxpayer Association an educational 501 C4. I would go down to Olympia during session and lobby for taxpayers. And, I would be paid. "No," I said. I am not looking to be paid. I am a volunteer. That was a Friday.
By Monday I couldn't call him fast enough. "Yes," I said. "Yes, I would love to lobby for a citizen's group!" It took a day to have it dawn on me. I was going to actually be paid for something I loved to do.
Kent and I worked over the phone on many issues. Over the years we were to make a big impact on South King County. I was able to learn from an honest and brilliant elected official. Kent had a PhD. in chemistry and was the WA State Chess Champion. Even after he left competition he remained ranked for years. He worked twice as hard as any of his colleagues and was twice as smart. He was never their favorite. But, the people kept him in office for over 30 years.
I had fun working on local issues and getting a taste of Olympia with CTA. I still had the desire to work with young people and did so at church. Then on New Year's Eve 1986 Kent called and asked me to be his legislative aide.
Former State Senator and King County Councilman Kent Pullen died in office at age 61 on April 14, 2003.