Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Daily World Citizen of the Year Banquet
May 4, 1998
This is a truly wonderful occasion. And I'd like to spend the next few minutes just telling you why I'm so delighted to be here to share this special moment with Sgt. Siress, Moose Brownrigg, Harold Schmidtke - and with everyone who's come here to honor them.
On the same day that the Daily World announced Harold Schmidtke as Citizen of the Year, there was a photo of your local courthouse, with a photo caption that read: "At the turn of the Century, the Harbors' leaders had the vision for a courthouse that would be a lasting legacy. Will today's leaders have the same kind of vision for the next century?"
I think that tonight, this community is answering that question with a resounding "yes." And the bedrock of your vision of the future is the very idea of honoring good citizenship.
Here in this county, you can see that while everything else may change, the value of citizenship remains constant. In fact, because of the difficult and traumatic times this county has been through, I think you have a deeper understanding of the importance of good citizenship than most communities. For you, looking out for your neighbors and taking personal responsibility for the future isn't just nice banquet rhetoric - it's an absolute necessity. And I really believe that because of the depth and strength of your community spirit, this county will thrive in the coming century.
It's true you have lots of assets - the incredible natural beauty of this area; the natural resources that surround you; and a wonderful harbor. But in the high-tech, global economy of the 21st century, economic growth will depend less on those resources than on the resources that are in our brains, and in our hearts.
With nothing more than what was in their brains, Bill Gates and his friends built the mighty Microsoft. They didn't have Rockefellers for parents. They didn't own land, or timber, or gold mines. They built their success on brainpower - and they continue to invent new products from the raw material of intelligence, knowledge, and imagination. That's the way of the future.
But it isn't just what's in our brains that matters. It's also what's in our hearts. And here's why: The era of Big Government is over. We have finally reached a national consensus on the limits of government. We know now that government alone cannot solve our problems.
For many years, we thought that we could use government programs as a substitute for our own compassion and personal responsibility. But the result was that our society became less compassionate, and less responsible.
Now we've learned that government is simply too expensive and too clumsy an instrument to ever succeed at those things that each of us ought to do as citizens. And even the things government ought to do - such as supporting the very best schools, promoting economic growth, and saving our salmon - cannot be accomplished by government alone. Government can't create new industries, or protect every inch of every stream, or ensure that all our children do their homework. Government can only work effectively in partnership with active, involved citizens.
That's why President Clinton has called for the beginning of a new era - the era of the Big Citizen. The idea of the era of the Big Citizen is very simple: if we want government to do less, citizens simply must do more. If we want to fight poverty, each of us must be prepared to reach out to neighbors in need, to watch over the kids in our neighborhood, and to be involved in our local schools. If we want economic development and environmental preservation, we must all take responsibility for creating the cooperative atmosphere that leads to real progress, and we must all be willing to compromise our own self-interest for the benefit of the common good. Our brains and our hearts must work together to solve the problems of our families, our communities, and our country.
Here in Grays Harbor County, that's something you excel at. And that's why I have an abiding faith that this community will attract new industries, nurture the growth of those that are here, and become a destination for people who are fascinated by this area's history and culture, its natural beauty, and its small-town virtues.
Right now, we are all hopeful about the possibility of US Gypsum coming here, and my administration will do all we can to promote that. At this moment, we know there aren't any guarantees. But this community wouldn't be one of three finalists for that new plant if it weren't for the special qualities your minds and hearts.
The three men we're here to honor tonight embody perfectly the strengths that will help this community compete and win in the economy of the 21st century. Sgt. Siress's earned his honor because of his combination of outstanding ability and compassion. Moose Brownrigg earned his honor because of his positive attitude - a quality of character that has withstood a terrible loss, and inspired us all. And Harold Schmidtke - who bears the most honored title of Citizen of the Year - has earned his special place in our hearts through a lifetime of good-humored devotion to this community and its history. He is truly a very Big Citizen -- a little sassy, but a very Big Citizen - one might even say an old-growth citizen. And because he is a historian, he probably understands more deeply than any of us that this community's most important strength is its deep tradition of active citizenship and its ability to adapt to all the twists and turns of the past century of change.
These three men certainly deserve the honor you are bestowing on them tonight. But everyone in this room ought to claim a share of their glory, because these men are the products of this community. The qualities you honor in these men - ability, compassion, a positive attitude even in the face of adversity, a lifetime of good-humored devotion to community projects, and a commitment to preserve your special heritage - these are strengths that characterize the best of this county. By honoring these three men, you honor the best in yourselves, your neighbors - and your future. You honor the qualities of mind and heart that will spell success in the coming century. You reveal a shining vision of what this community can and will be during the next hundred years: a place where citizenship is the most honored calling of every man, woman, and child.
And you set an inspiring example for every community in our state. That's why I'm so glad to be here.
As I have traveled this state, I have seen many communities - some more prosperous, some less - that desperately need what you have. I have met many people who long for the sense of community, for the experience of having deep roots, and for the neighborliness of places like this. As our economy becomes more high-tech and more global, these qualities of genuine communities become ever more valuable. So I'm glad to be here because by honoring three of the best people this community has produced, you honor and preserve the traditions that shaped them. And nothing could be better for the future of the state of Washington - or for the United States of America -- than gathering together to do this tonight.
Thank you very much -- and on behalf of all the people of this state, congratulations to our honorees, and to all the people of this community.