Parting words from retiring LFP councilmember John Wright

Monday, January 3, 2022

John Wright photo courtesy
City of Lake Forest Park
John Wright has retired from the Lake Forest Park City Council after serving from January 2010 - December 2021.

His parting words for the community:

I’m proud of the work we’ve done during my 12 years on board, particularly in eliminating flooding from our town center and Sheridan Beach neighborhood. 

By following an unconventional approach we were able to solve our seasonal flooding problems and improve the health of our streams all at the same time, and save $2 Million in the process! 

Mayor Johnson’s goal of removing fish barriers and returning migrating salmon to our streams is actively being realized and it is something we should all take great satisfaction from.

Despite some very challenging economic times and the need to furlough City Staff during the worst of it, our City is running with amazing efficiency and our staff are doing tremendous work despite the global pandemic.

With road and street infrastructure crumbling in many cities surrounding LFP, our streets are in excellent condition due to our investments in maintenance and the dedication of our public works team. 

When residential burglaries spiked, our outstanding Police Department doubled down with outreach to citizens and coordinated block watch events which quickly turned the tide. Our residents have a great affinity for our police professionals and through coordination and cooperation it has made Lake Forest Park one of the safest cities in the region.

The Council has completed re-zoning projects on two neighborhoods with broad public participation, completed the Safe Streets, Safe Highways, and Parks, Recreation and Trails plans, acquired three new parks and passed new regulations protecting our trees and wildlife. We inaugurated the Lake Forest Park Pet Parade as a great community event.

Unfortunately and on a far less positive note, for most of the past two years we’ve been locked-down to one extent or another by the pandemic and our meetings have been virtual, offering the only ‘unmasked’ contact we’ve had with our colleagues and constituents.

It has been a lot of fun, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way that I think are important for elected leaders to know:

During my tenure I’ve stressed the importance of protecting individual rights in balance with communal rights, so that as an example, we don’t legislate protection of the ‘community forest’ in a way that strips individual property owners of the right to manage their lands. We love our trees in LFP, and we cherish our freedom as well.

I’ve learned that the best solutions involve balance and that the process we follow in considering and legislating is extremely important to maintaining our democracy. We must ensure that citizens can see and participate in the process as it moves forward and have the chance to object if they feel their interests are not being served.
 
I’ve learned that Tax proposals which never need to be re-authorized are anti-democratic because they remove voters' ability to hold leaders accountable for how their money is spent. For democracy to work we all need to be regular active participants!

I’ve learned that elected leaders need constant reminding that their primary responsibility is to ensure public safety and maintain the public infrastructure before anything else. Just look to our large neighbor to the south where the criminal justice system is not working and major transportation infrastructure is closed for years and must be replaced because it wasn’t properly maintained. Our quality of life depends on leaders delivering on these responsibilities.

Going forward we’re all going to face many more challenges, and how we respond to them will determine if we advance or decline. The Growth Management Act (GMA) demands greater and greater population density within established ‘urban growth boundaries’ and will force multifamily developments into our city, which will directly effect the green and heavily forested quality of life we enjoy today. Will we stay mostly single-family, or transition to multifamily, and how will we grow within our concept of ‘green infrastructure’?

How will we deal with expanding crime, substance abuse, and mental health in a compassionate and effective way that reflects our values and maintains the city as a great place to live? We need to develop effective policies and regulations for our first responders now and be prepared so that this rising tide that is much more prevalent outside our borders does not overwhelm us.

I’m concerned about the great push toward ‘equity’ (collective rights) and away from ‘equality’ (individual rights) that is much more communistic than democratic and now pervades every level of government in the region. As free people we must insist that government ensure equal opportunity and equal access, but it over-reaches and becomes tyrannical when it attempts to dictate outcomes. Equal opportunity for all must always be the goal, not forced outcomes.

I began this journey as an elected Councilmember when I retired from the Navy and Naval Reserve and while serving on the Council I retired from the County and returned to private sector engineering work. Soon I hope to have the time to do all the things that I’ve had to put off in the past due to other commitments.

Life is full and I am grateful to have served with dedicated and outstanding colleagues, Mayors, Staff and Administrators along the way. It’s also been my honor to have served with leaders from neighboring cities on the SeaShore Transportation Forum, the King County Regional Transit Committee, the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Transportation Policy Board, and the King County Regional Water Quality Committee, where I have been able to represent Lake Forest Park and the Sound Cities Association in shaping transportation and clean-water policy for the region.

I wish my colleagues and the incoming Councilmembers the very best of success in the new year and hope that they will focus their efforts to the best possible results. It’s always an honor to serve, and it has been my pleasure to serve on the Lake Forest Park City Council.

John Wright
Councilmember (2010 – 2021)
City of Lake Forest Park


2 comments:

Jack T, LFP January 4, 2022 at 7:44 AM  

John represented the very best of one could ask to serve the citizens of LFP. He is honest, thoughtful, humble, available for discussion, fair in decision and has always stood on the citizens side of issues with his vote; no matter if he stood alone on Council. We were fortunate to have his years of service and it will be very difficult to replace the chair with such a man of character. Jack Tonkin (past council member)

Unknown January 6, 2022 at 5:52 PM  

I remember when John fended off a challenger to his council seat some years back. I had no clue who John was at the time, but it wasn't difficult to look up his credentials and experience listed on the LFP website. I was very impressed with John's credentials and was proud to support his campaign.

I wish him well in his retirement.
Greg Goebel, resident of LFP.

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