Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Boards & Commissions Reception—Yakima
December 2, 2003

Good morning. I am honored to be here.

And I’m especially pleased that you could all take time away from your busy schedules to be here. I know you are all pulled between the demands of your work for our state, your career or job, and your personal life. I know your time is precious—and overbooked. So thank you for being here. And thank you for the work you do to make Washington a better state.

Boards and commissions are an integral and vital part of our state government. We have a long, proud tradition of citizen participation in this state. Boards and commissions are at the heart of this participation.

You are directly connected in your work with the people of our state. You provide a critical citizen’s perspective. We rely on you to represent the opinions, concerns and needs of our communities and constituent groups.

We rely on you in other important ways. We rely on you to shape policy. We depend on you for the regulations that govern specific program areas. You help our state decide how our limited resources should be divided. And we count on your counsel and advice as we try to make the best decisions about our state’s future.

Looking around this room, I am reminded of the endless ways in which we depend on your efforts.

We rely on groups like the Academic Achievement and Accountability Commission, the Professional Educator Standards Board, and the Community and Technical College District Boards of Trustees to improve education. To help our kids meet higher academic standards. To raise the quality of our educators. To help promising young students pursue higher education. To guide our institutions of higher learning in the right directions.

We rely on regulatory commissions like the Dental Quality Assurance Commission, the Medical Quality Assurance Commission and the Chiropractic Quality Assurance Commission. We need them to watchdog the health care providers who treat us—and treat our families. To make sure our medical providers are qualified. And to make sure we as patients are well-informed about our rights, our options, and our medical providers themselves.

And we rely on boards like Growth Management Hearings Boards and the Pollution Control/Shorelines Hearings Board to preserve Washington’s natural beauty while directing growth wisely. To make the most of our natural strengths without sacrificing them. To ensure a sustainable future for our children. A future of economic, social and environmental vitality.

Thanks to your efforts, our state government is more responsive to our citizens. Thanks to your efforts, our government doesn’t just function but works. Thanks to you, the quality of life in our state is higher. And thanks to you, those same citizens have a stronger voice in their government.

All of us in this room today share an important conviction: public service is its own reward. I am honored to serve as Washington’s governor. It is a privilege to serve the people of our state. I sense that same honor in all of you. Your commitment, dedication, and desire to serve are evident.

We share another equally important conviction: That diversity is our greatest strength.

I am very proud of our record on diversity. I am proud that we have increased the percentage of female appointees since I took office. And I’m proud that since 1997, we have increased minority membership on boards and commissions by more than 500%. Let me repeat that: we have increased minority membership by more than 500%.

In our diversity lies our humanity. A society that denies its differences is doomed to division.

But an inclusive society embraces its rich variety of people, cultures, and religions. It reaches for the highest, best potential of all its peoples.

We all want our state and our nation to openly celebrate and energetically embrace its diversity. Together, you are helping to make this a reality in Washington state.

You each work on specific issues and concerns. You serve particular constituencies. You work at all levels of government and cover a broad range of issues. Each of the more than 250 boards and commissions is unique in its purpose, mission and role.

And yet you have so much in common. You are all making a difference, serving the people of Washington. Continuing to make the world and our state a better place. Helping to set far-reaching policies that will positively affect future generations.

Today, I thank you for your contribution. And I ask that you stay focused on your respective missions. I ask that you stay focused on the future, and how your hard work now is paving the way for a better tomorrow.

You can count on me to work harder than ever in the next 14 months. Virtually all of you are serving terms that go beyond my next 14 months. I am confident that all of you will also continue to make the most of the opportunity to serve.

Together, let’s make sure Washington remains a great place to live, work, and raise a family. For us, for our children, and for future generations.

Thank you.

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