City owes success to Jeanne
October 3, 2008 · Updated 1:13 AM
Jeanne became mayor at a critical juncture in the history
of Snoqualmie. Shortly before she became mayor, new state
regulations regarding construction in the floodplain, based upon
requirements from FEMA, had effectively shut down any new
development potential for Snoqualmie.
The city had an inadequate tax base from mostly small,
50-plus-year-old homes and a one-block commercial area on
one-half of the street that was in a state of decay. At this time, the city
was in financial chaos. Many creditors had not been paid, and
the city had incurred unfunded liabilities to its employees. The
accounting and budgeting system was in such disarray that no one
could understand the financial condition of the city.
In addition, the city's streets were in deplorable
condition, sidewalks and storm drains were practically nonexistent and
the city was facing orders from the Department of Ecology to
upgrade its wastewater treatment facility. The year before, the city had
suffered millions of dollars in damages from a major flood. To top
it off, there was no professional management staff on board to
advise the elected officials on how to address these problems.
I am not sure very many people understood the
precarious circumstances of the city when Jeanne began her term as
mayor. Perhaps Jeanne's most admirable characteristic was her eternal
optimism. Few people could come into such an intimidating
situation facing these incredible challenges and still hold up under
the pressures. The odds were stacked high against her success,
but Jeanne had what it took to succeed. She was made for this
moment. Her life had prepared her for this time when her
community needed her most.
Jeanne had faced challenges her entire life. Coming
from humble beginnings, she had moved across the country
as young girl to start a new life in Washington. She worked
and struggled to improve herself in the face of adversity. As a
young widow, she went to work and moved up to a very
responsible position in her employment. She became a leader in
professional organizations and in her church. She worked on the Hospital
Board to build a new hospital. She served in various capacities in
With incredible tenacity and persistence, Jeanne faced the
issues addressing the city. In almost every respect, the favorable
circumstances under which the city now operates is in large
measure due to her efforts. From repaired streets to new parks and new
storm drains, from new facilities to well-planned new developments,
from flood projects to protected open spaces, Jeanne succeeded
The key to her success was to bring the right people together
to address a problem. From our congressional leaders to the
governor, from local legislators and citizens to business leaders, from
the county to federal agencies, Jeanne brought them together to work
Jeanne formed important networks and partnerships with
agencies and individuals that brought unprecedented expertise and
resources to help Snoqualmie. As Jeanne's success in
Snoqualmie was being recognized locally, she began to be noticed in the
region. She was constantly being sought out to serve in various
capacities. Jeanne had to become selective, or she would have had all of
her time taken up by service, but she did serve with distinction in
Suburban Cities and the Puget Sound Regional Council.
Yet in spite of all of this success, Jeanne never took
herself too seriously. She always had a humble attitude and a great
sense of humor. She was approachable and a joy to be around. And,
more importantly, in a day of cynicism regarding elected officials,
Jeanne did it the right way.
Jeanne's integrity was unquestionable. Her strong sense
of values served as her bedrock. Her word was a given. She became
a role model to numerous other individuals who could not help
but be impressed with her style and grace.
One more thing that should be noted is that those who knew
her best also knew her tender side. She was a private person. She had
a great capacity to love and she deeply cared about people.
Her greatest desire was to help others. Jeanne was kind and thoughtful.
On a personal note, she was like a grandmother to our
children. She was kind enough to hire and take a chance on a young
city administrator with a big family who really needed a job.
Farewell Jeanne. We appreciate you, we respect you, and we love you.
Kim and Nanette Wilde and family