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WALLY'S WORLD: Buckley mayor presiding over town poised for growth
Having written columns on Black Diamond Mayor Becky Olness and Enumclaw mayor Liz Reynolds, it only seems appropriate one should be offered on Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson. Last week we sat down over lattés in the Main Street Coffee Shop.
Pat was born in the Enumclaw hospital. He mother was a VanHoof (why doesn't that surprise me?), her maiden name was Owen and she lived most of her life in Buckley – though, after her marriage, she lived in New Jersey for several years before moving to Federal Way and than returning to her home town. (Like this illustrious writer, she was blown away by New York City and believes it has a culture distinctly different from any other place in America.) She has two children; her son is a dentist in Enumclaw and her daughter is in flight operations with Alaska Airlines.
Pat served 14 years on the Buckley City Council before being elected to her first term as mayor in 2005. She started her second term six months ago.
Despite a 12-year moratorium on new development, Buckley's population has more than doubled during the last 30 years. She smiled rather nostalgically and mentioned a few, old business institutions that haven't changed much over the years; i.e., the feed store and Wally's Drive-In (formerly Viz's).
There are, of course, many new Main Street businesses; for example, the Hitchin' Post restaurant, where I haven't yet eaten but have every intention of doing so in the near future. Several years ago, the old Logger's Inn was remodeled and reincarnated at the Firehouse Pub, currently one of the most popular watering holes on the Plateau.
On her watch, the sewage treatment plant has been renovated and updated, which will allow for considerable community growth. Some housing developments have already been drawn up but are on hold, awaiting President Obama's promised economic recovery.
The most difficult part of her official work involves trying to scrape together enough money from taxes, donations and federal and state grants for important community projects. Foremost among these are a new fire station and facilities for the youth and senior centers.
Pat wants to extend her heartfelt appreciation to the voters who, even in these rough economic times, recently approved new taxes for local schools and the fire department by an overwhelming majority –about 80 percent, which is unheard of anywhere else in the state.
In the course of our conversation, I pointed out that the mayors of Black Diamond, Enumclaw and Buckley all are women. She said the same is true of Orting, South Prairie and Wilkeson.
"It's the end of the Ol' Boys Club," she laughed. "The super wonder women have taken over!"
However, there's really nothing extraordinary about any of them. Attractive, intelligent and charming as they may be, all three – Becky, Liz and Pat – are really just down-home, girl-next-door ladies. Whether or not they're good mayors is another matter entirely and that's a subject far beyond my area of expertise.