Six years ago, I left employment with the Washington State Senate to move back to California and take a job with the city government in the town I grew up in. It was a good career move and a good move to be back with my family. Today, I’m visiting the Washington State Senate for the first time since I left. To add a bit of drama to the situation of the day, it is the final day of the 2012 legislative session. As I’m visiting old friends, I was asked what I missed most about working for the Legislature. I’m going to answer that question in two parts because I was reminded what I miss most and what I missed least about the work.
What I miss most is the feeling of action, the feeling of excitement and the feeling that good work was being done on the people’s behalf. I miss standing in the wings of the Senate Chamber, just off the floor, and watching the action and knowing that in my small part, I was helping shape the future of the state. I was reminded by the amazing lunch that I miss the free food. It’s been really amazing to walk around this place and feel the excitement and buzz of what’s going on.
What I miss least is the feeling of helplessness when a bill, for whatever reason dies. I’ve watched some of my friends working very hard to keep a good bill alive today that will most likely die. I’m leaving the details of the bill out on purpose because until the Senate adjourns a bill isn’t dead. It’s a hard thing to watch friends working to keep something alive that won’t likely be alive much longer, but it’s admirable that they do it and keep working until they can’t work any more. It’s truly a feeling of heartbreak when a bill that you’ve worked on for a long time dies and I can see that heartbreak in my friend’s faces today.
I miss the friends I made while working here, but I don’t miss the long hours during the legislative session. I’m staying here as long as my friend is at work today, and I don’t expect to leave before midnight. Working in a legislative environment is truly awesome, working for local government as I do today is a completely different kind of awesome.
All in all, I know I made the right choice in switching jobs, but the excitement , triumph, and heartbreak of the legislative environment are on my mind today…