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The last chapter
When Mayor Randy "Fuzzy" Fletcher ends his second term in office on Dec. 31, he will leave behind an eight-year legacy for the city of Snoqualmie that includes structural and housing developments, policy changes, historic document signings and, of course, the honor of being the only mayor in the Valley to get his city's 100th anniversary logo tattooed on his forearm.
"I'd like to thank all the citizens for allowing me to be mayor and to work for them ... and for allowing me to serve them," he said. "This is just me doing my civic duty."
Fletcher decided not to run again in order to spend more time with his family.
"I've spent a third of my marriage in politics," he said. "My wife is looking forward to having me back."
Working an 80-hour workweek, the former machinist, who worked full time throughout his time as mayor, just began a new job this August working as the director of emergency management and homeland security for the Snoqualmie Tribe. On the weekends, he runs his own gunsmith and custom machining business.
"I did the best that I know how to do and I'd like to think the city's in better shape now than when I got here," he said. "I've got faith that the city's moving forward in the right direction."
Fletcher said he never had an office to work out of, just his laptop and briefcase in his car.
Knowing little about politics when he started in public office, Fletcher called the learning curve "a vertical wall."
"Fortunately, I've had some really good people working here that I can trust," he said.
He said he has learned much along the way.
"I've learned a lot about a municipal budget," he added. "[I've learned] that [with] any project or any issue, a group of people can get through it if they just listen to both sides of it."
One of the things he said he will miss most as he leaves office will be interacting with the people who make up the community.
Receiving about 70 to 80 e-mails a day while in office, Fletcher would often rise at 3:30 a.m. to respond to each one, staying on the computer until about 5 a.m. before heading to work at 6 a.m.
He said he felt it was important to respond to an e-mail within 48 hours, even if he didn't have an answer for the sender. He felt it was important for each citizen to know that their comments were being heard.
"The least difficult [aspect of being mayor] was being responsive to the citizens," he said. "I've always wanted to try to open that door."
Fletcher said that the rest of a typical day would involve fielding mayoral calls while at work or at lunch or on his way home. Then it was off to staff meetings, public appearances or City Council meetings every other Monday beginning around 5 or 6 p.m. and lasting sometimes until 10 p.m. Winding down around 11 p.m. or midnight, he would get up before dawn the next day, each day.
"I balanced it all by not sleeping that much," he said. "Maybe some day I'll write a book."
Of all the many initiatives and projects he has implemented during his time, Fletcher said his most memorable moments include the 205 Flood Reduction Project, followed closely by the day he signed the historic agreement with the Snoqualmie Tribe to provide it with public safety and sewers in exchange for upgraded sewer lines in Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Falls Preservation Initiative.
"While the success of this land conservation deal involved numerous private and government organizations and individuals, it simply could not have succeeded without Fuzzy's courage and willingness to consider unusual solutions. This accomplishment will preserve the quality of life in the Upper Valley - quite literally - for hundreds of years," said mayor-elect Matt Larson in an e-mail.
"Regardless of our differences over the years, Fuzzy and I have enjoyed a very constructive, respectful and productive relationship due to his ability to not let personal, political or professional differences interfere with getting the city's business done," Larson continued.
At his 250th consecutive council meeting on Dec. 12 (and his last meeting as mayor), Fletcher was presented with a certificate of appreciation plaque to honor his contributions to the city, both as mayor and as a two-year City Council member. He was also honored earlier in the day by the King County City Council with another certificate of appreciation.
"It's just amazing how much he did ... to represent this city with dignity," said King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert. "He's a wonderful asset to our entire county ... He's an incredible leader."
For Fletcher, 51, being mayor of a city was not something he even considered doing as a youth. As a child, he wanted to be a forensic pathologist. Born in California, he was raised in east Los Angeles and lived in Hollywood; he graduated from high school and got married shortly thereafter to Cathy, his wife of 33 years. Along the way, he developed an interest in motorcycles, becoming an avid biker. He also began acquiring his now famous collection of tattoos.
A lot of people take pictures to capture memories and moments in their lives, but Fletcher said he gets tattoos. "It's just another chapter of my life."
Though he sold his last motorcycle a few years ago, now that things are slowing down for him, he said that he and his wife will start looking for another bike soon.
Fletcher said he had always had a respect for and an interest in police work, even taking a test for a highway patrol dispatcher position before moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1979.
With family nearby and a daughter sick with leukemia, Fletcher moved with his family to Bellevue so that his child could receive special medical care not provided in California at the time. In 1981, they moved to Fall City and in 1991, they moved to Snoqualmie. His two daughters, both in their 30s now, live locally and are healthy. One just told him he would be a grandpa for the third time.
When he arrived in Snoqualmie, Fletcher said he was interested in working in public service somehow, so he contacted the local police department and ended up volunteering for various activities and doing department chores like making coffee.
"For the first part of my life I'd been taking from society and I felt the need to give something back," he said. "It's everybody's responsibility to do some kind of public service."
That led to his two years on the City Council before running for mayor in 1997. Sworn into office on Jan. 8, 1998, Fuzzy was re-elected in 2001, beginning his second term in 2002.
"Mayor Fletcher inspires each of us with his tireless service and his unwavering dedication. I've learned more from him than I ever guessed possible in the short time I've had the privilege of working with him," said Snoqualmie City Councilmember Kingston Wall, who replaced Nate Short on the council earlier this year, in an e-mail.
Though Fletcher said he wished he could have foreseen the financial difficulties the city may be facing in the future, he said he feels good about leaving.
He noted that he is at peace with all that has happened and the decisions that have been made, and feels he will be exiting office without leaving unaddressed issues on the table.
"The issues never stop coming," he noted. "[I have found] that the more you listen [and] the less you talk, the better off things seem to wind up."
He suggested that of the many issues the council and the next mayor are facing, there should remain a focus on the financial shortfall and on further development to make sure things are handled correctly. One issue for the council, he noted, will be the exploration of consolidating city services.
"You do the best you know how to do," he said. "Listen to citizens and the professional staff before making decisions ... It's hard. Sometimes you have to make a decision ... and you just have to believe you are doing the right thing."
Though Fletcher's tattoo of Snoqualmie features the date he first took office in 1998, its end date remains unfinished.
Fletcher has no plans to return to public