The end of an era in North Bend

Some may think it strange that I would highlight the career of a politician, but then again when you say the name Joan Simpson you don't think of a politician, but rather a matriarch who gallantly led the city of North Bend through some difficult years.

Yes, this is one of those rare occasions where the gloves come off and the hugs go out. The grand lady of North Bend is stepping down as mayor and for those of us who had the fortunate pleasure of knowing her during her tenure, she will be missed like few before her.

Sure, we may not have always agreed - and I am confident there are still issues on which we may not agree - but there was one thing that was, and is, never in doubt. Joan Simpson loves Snoqualmie Valley and more specifically, North Bend, her town. She epitomizes the elegance and grace of politicians before her, such as former Snoqualmie Mayor Jeanne Hansen. She has the character and honesty of former North Bend Mayor Fritz Ribary. But in her own right, she took a city from the depths of despair due to mayor and council feuds, to one of hope, working together and community.

Joan has had to tackle decisions such as the funding of Tollgate Farm. She asked her constituents what they wanted through a survey from which she planned her mayoral tenure. Joan faced the challenge of a county wanting to dump anything and everything on municipalities and she stared down King County Executive Ron Sims when he wanted to place a sex-offender housing unit nearby.

She has led a city through funding challenges created by Tim Eyman initiatives. She negotiated emergency service contracts to assure her city's safety and she worked to revitalize a downtown area that had lost its character. No one can argue that Joan is a hard-working mayor who could brow beat the best of us but still make us respect and love her for her commitment to her community.

North Bend has forever changed to become a better place because Joan was mayor. I personally thank you for your unwavering commitment to Valley causes and for always telling me like it is. You never ceased to amaze even your detractors, but more importantly, your shoes are going to be difficult to fill.

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