News

Pat's rules: After 31 years as Snoqualmie's attorney, local native Pat Anderson handing off legal duties for retirement

After more than 30 years as the city attorney for Snoqualmie, Pat Anderson is saying farewell to city hall this month. After years of advising the city on the law, handling many legal matters involving growth—and brewing a lot of beer as founder of Snoqualmie Falls Brewery—he
After more than 30 years as the city attorney for Snoqualmie, Pat Anderson is saying farewell to city hall this month. After years of advising the city on the law, handling many legal matters involving growth—and brewing a lot of beer as founder of Snoqualmie Falls Brewery—he'll focus on his love of music, try new things, and spend time in his former vacation home in Birch Bay.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Pat Anderson's career has taken a number of twists and turns. One road, however, kept leading him home.

As a young lawyer, Anderson lucked out and got a job advising the government of his home city. He's been doing that job for more than 30 years, and his legal mind has become one of the longest serving institutional memories of the city.

"An attorney always represents a client," said Anderson. "I advise the mayor and council when asked for advice. But when they've made a decision, it's my responsibility to use all lawful means to implement their decision. That's what I've tried to do, throughout my career."

Anderson's last day at work is December 20. The city sends him off with a farewell open house and program, 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.

Why now? "It's about time," says Anderson, 67. His youngest son, Austin, is graduating from college.

Anderson's replacement, Bob Sterbank, has been confirmed, and starts work December 9. Anderson is focused on handing off every file.

"It's going to be big shoes to fill, no doubt about that," said Council Member Charles Peterson, whose own council tenure dates to the 1970s, and is the only other member of city government with such long service.

"It's all locked in his memory," Peterson said. "Pat's been a wealth of knowledge, and done a commendable job for the city."

Hometown boy

Anderson was born and raised in Snoqualmie. His father owned the Valley Men's Shop, a clothing store (now an apartment duplex) at Meadowbrook. It's the last building on the left as you approach the Meadowbrook bridge.

After closing that store, Anderson's father started the Grant Anderson Insurance agency, now Bell-Anderson insurance, on Second Street and Bendigo Boulevard in North Bend.

Anderson married his wife, Patty, after junior year, and graduated from Western Washington University in 1968, with a degree in philosophy.

"I wanted to be a philosophy professor," said Anderson, who enjoys the logic and intellectual nature of the subject.

Accepted to grad school, and recently married, Anderson promptly joined the Peace Corps, reasoning that he was primed for the Vietnam draft.

The next two years saw Anderson and his wife living in Turkey, as he taught the English language to children in rural Turkey, and then literature and composition to pupils in the city.

"It was great," Anderson said. "I loved it. I wouldn't trade it for anything."

He got along just fine with the children, but tensions between the U.S. and Turkey were strained in those cold war days.

"There was an awful lot of U.S. military presence, and it was resented" by many Turks, Anderson recalled. The experience shaped his life.

"Coming right out of college, and thrown into a sink-or-swim situation, I was having to cope with a foreign language, rent, buy food and bank in Turkish," said Anderson. He's forgotten much of  the language, but can still exchange pleasantries with city contractor Rahmi Kutsal, who is Turkish.

He returned to the United States for two more years of teaching in Camden, New Jersey.

It was "a good experience," he remembers. He taught Kindergarten, first and second grades, and was handy enough with a camera that the district was offering a job as a half-time photographer with the district.

Legal start

But a different fork was in the road. A friend told him about the upcoming law school aptitude test at nearby Temple University, and suggested they both take it.

"It seemed like an interesting thing to do," said Anderson, who did quite well on the test. Entering the legal profession, "I absolutely just fell into it," he said.

"It's problem solving and logical thinking," he said of the trade. He's less enthusiastic about "the conflict element that seems to inhere in a lot of it," but loves the mental exercise of building a case and educating an audience, and knows "you can't please everybody."

Graduating from Rutgers in 1975, he worked for statesman and future New Jersey governor James Florio as a law clerk, putting himself through school.

He could have followed Florio into government but told him, "Sooner or later, I've got to get back to Washington state."

He and Patty wanted to go home, so Anderson applied to many firms in Washington.

"I got lots of 'Thank you for your interest' and one job offer—from Darryl Rank, attorney for the city of his hometown of Snoqualmie.

At age 27, he was the associate city attorney.

"On the first day I started working for him, he said, 'There's a city council meeting tonight. Do you want to handle the city business?'" Anderson said. "I was tossed right in."

At that time, Cleo Soister, the Snoqualmie Valley Record's reporter who also happened to be a co-owner, was covering the meetings.

"'Gee, Pat, I'm sure glad you're doing this because Darryl mumbles,'" Anderson remembers he telling him. "She had been my Cub Scout den mother. Roots!"

This arrangement only lasted a few months. There just wasn't enough work for two city lawyers. So, Anderson approached the Issaquah firm of Thomas Whittington (now Thomas, Whittington, Bergan, Studebaker) with a proposition: Hire me as an associate or I'll be your competition. They weren't quite ready for him, but took him on anyway in January of 1976.

As the new guy, "I did everything," Anderson said. "I didn't specialize in anything. When clients came in the door, I would sit down and meet with them. I did divorce cases, criminal defense, plaintiff's personal injury work—I did everything under the son."

The experience taught him about research, how to write briefs, how to take cases in front of the court.

Contrast that ground-floor experience with today's law school grads.

"I am not in that market, but what I read is that it's very tough," Anderson said. "A lot of people graduate and have a difficult time finding a job where they can get paid for work."

Back to the city

In 1982, then-mayor Darwin Sukut asked Anderson to be the next city attorney. He worked under contract for the next 23 years.

During the late 1980s, the Snoqualmie Ridge project was in its inception. Anderson remembers when he and Sukut met with a Weyerhaeuser vice president and attorney in his Issaquah conference room in 1987. Unrolled across the desk was a set of plans. With boarded up shops on Railroad Avenue, "obviously, Darwin was interested in talking about it," Anderson said. From there, the studies began that led to the transformation of Snoqualmie.

In 2005, for the third year in a row, Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher asked Anderson to come in-house, this time more insistently, as growth was increasing the legal load. This time, he said yes, and wishes he'd said yes sooner for the retirement pension.

At the time, though, his work running the Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company was a major focus.

He had founded in 1997 in the former Dairy Queen distribution center downtown, where, with some remodels and expansions, the Brewery still does business today.

A passionate homebrewer for years, Anderson decided that "If I don't do it now, I'm never going to do it."

When word got out about his plans, local partners jumped in, starting with David McKibben, followed by Tom Antone, Leroy Gmazel and Dave Eiffert.

"I didn't have to solicit anybody," Anderson said. "They just heard about it and got in touch with me."

Sixteen years down the road, the brewery is running strong, with an expansion in 2011, and is scrappy in a challenging industry.

With retirement, Anderson has turned the reins as president over to Eiffert, and will stay on as secretary-treasurer.

In retirement

Anderson doesn't consider himself a great musician. But music has always a major love. He plays the guitar and ocarina, and is looking forward to playing more in retirement.

An April 1964 photo shows a high school age Anderson as part of the Mount Si singers, readying for a "hootenany" in the Mount Si gymnasium.

He had gotten his folk music friends to come out and put on a great show.

Anderson loves learning and playing folk, pop, classical, even show tunes, "Whatever I like.

"The tune I'm working on right now is "Do You Hear The People Sing' from Les Mis," he said.

He is also looking forward to more than just a few days at a time at his vacation home on Birch Bay in Whatcom County.

That's been an Anderson family destination since his parents took him there often as a boy.

After years of camping and cabin renting, he and Patty found and bought the small house near the waterfront in a single day.

Over the years, Anderson has lived on the North Fork Road, at Spring Glen, and most recently, in a home he built in Fall City's Uplands.

He and Patty sold their house this spring. Since May, they've lived out of a fifth wheel in Preston.

"Actually, I've enjoyed living in the fifth wheel," he said. "We've discovered how much we actually need."

He's not completely retired. Besides holding down duties with the brewery, he'll do some project work for a municipal law firm in Snohomish. The owner promised no more than one day a week, though. Anderson is also planning on doing some work as a mediator.

Growth in the city

During Anderson's long tenure, the bulk of legal issues that have come up have been ones involving growth, from the creation of Snoqualmie Ridge and the annexation of land surrounding Snoqualmie Falls to, more recently, the annex of the Weyerhaeuser mill site and the new Imagine Housing affordable complex, both of which spawned legal challenges to the city.

His departure comes at a time when the Snoqualmie city council's makeup is changing for the first time since 2005, with the departure of Maria Henriksen and her replacement by Snoqualmie Ridge resident Heather Munden.

Yet Anderson is confident for the future. He says his replacement, Sterbank, is someone who will be able to give sound legal and policy advice, when asked. He has lawyered for the cities of Lake Forest Park, Mercer Island, and Olympia.

"Bob rose to the top," he said. "He's got the right skill set for the issues facing Snoqualmie."

As for any advice, "I'm sure I'll give him some," he said.

"I don't think you'll notice huge changes," said Anderson.

 

Our Mobile Apps

Community Events, April 2014

Add an Event
We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Apr 23 edition online now. Browse the archives.