The Adventure is Ongoing – 2023 Begins

Today, is better than expected. I feel rested and the most excitement thus far regarding my continued future in public service. Tomorrow, I’ll be sworn in as new County Commissioner and begin my first of day of work as an elected official. The length of term is 1,460 days – 4 years.

I do feel it’s prudent to recognize some my problems are problems of abundance. I want to be mindful of that. Gratitude. My suffering is superficial in many ways.

I went off the grid quite a bit in December. It’s been a period of family time, rejuvenation, deep house cleaning, reflection, anxiety, doctor visits and wandering. I am grateful to have employment that has the capacity to provide for the health and welfare of its work force.

Getting hay from Stanwood’s just across the ridge from my grandma’s place. While we loaded hay for the donkey, I received another bullet point for community improvement. Tide gates.

Time away was more needed than I realized. Yet, my brief sabbatical revealed many self-narratives that are simply an illusion. The capacity of the human mind to conjure and fabricate is without limits it seems. I discovered the great importance of mindfully stepping away from constant mentation and the difficulties I impose upon myself with my own relentless obsessions. These can become barriers to enjoying the “here and now” whether intentional or accidental.

Many have asked “are you excited?” Truthfully, I’ve been more nervous than elated. I have a bit of imposter syndrome (minus the fraud aspect). More joy and less fight or flight? Yes.

Perhaps, I take it all too seriously?  But I doubt it. I’ve witnessed the complex systems of government that are fragile because of interconnected inefficiencies; convoluted systems that become self-serving life forces of their own. Has culture and society always been so messy?

My work ethic is robust. I enjoy it, really. Not working seems to be more of a challenge for me. Yet, I digress… and with that I may have identified one of my bigger shortcomings and needed area of self-improvement. I am hyper deductive. It takes me awhile to get comfortable and establish my own certainties. Couple that with my own propensity to endlessly ask “why” when the “how” and “what” are more immediate.  

Hanging with my besties at the Annual Association of Counties Conference. Brian, Kaety and Tim. Central Administration (BOC).

Even as I write this essay, I sense my propensity to be philosophical instead of exploring the tangible and concrete. Why is this? Curious.  

What is on the agenda for Casey the Commissioner In the coming weeks and months?

A few priorities:

  • Broadband. There is urgency. Before these financial opportunities fade, I will work to increase internet connectivity throughout our County.
  • Emergency preparedness. A perennial objective. Too easily we drop our guard both at home and at our places of business. Let’s remain steadfast.
  • Shelter as fundamental need. We need more of it. How can we create a paradigm shift to providing shelter to all?
  • Understand our work culture. I am curious to learn from our management team and employees. I am curious to listen and understand what is working and what needs improvement for Team LC.
  • Understand our community and open lines of communication. How can I both upstream, downstream and engage our many stakeholders?
  • Deliver and sustain the customer service people expect from county government. This includes being mindful of the future delivery of essential services in times of abundance and anticipated/cyclical financial hardships.
  • Secure the immediate needs and sustainability of the Board of Commissioners office to provide flagship customer service internally and externally.
  • Spending time in Salem. Whether it’s decoding the short session legislative activity, engaging with our State representatives, and interacting with the Association of Counties (AOC) – I’ll be spending more time at the capitol. Advocating for our community.

Ok… a feel a little better getting off a few bullet points.

Let’s return to the pondering and nebulous reflection…

Super blessed for these two. They make much of my capability possible. Their LOVE and resourcefulness is incredible.

On the campaign trail I struggled to answer the questions asked of me. This caught me off guard.  I didn’t realize that about myself. Let’s discuss the validity of the question, shall we? Sound bites, standardized questions and talking points can veer into the superficial both intentional and unintentional. Time was often limited. I often felt I needed more time to think and analyze to deliver just and thoughtful answers to the many inquiries.

At the same time, I was unwilling to sacrifice my duty to the tasks and responsibilities needed at the office. I caught myself resenting the people and the system that has allowed me a good life. Whether real or perceived I put my head down and grinded.  Both at work and through the campaign there was little respite as I became less calculated and endlessly BUSY.

Networking and learning at this year’s conference. AOC – Association of Counties – 2022.

The sacrifices and collateral damage were family time, reflective time and health care. One day I realized that I had become “skeletor”. I am gaining back some of the weight now (more medical tests are recommended). Insomnia and stress. Too many moments I thought I might be dying. My mental health was trashed. Running on fumes. I had never experienced that kind of disruption. Elected life is going to be more difficult than I had imagined. I need to be resilient.

Achieving escape velocity this December took an additional surge of energy. I had both guilt and anxiety to step away from work. After 14 years as a public information officer (and recent years as information responder to COVID/Wildfires) downtime was a rare occurrence. I am perhaps a workaholic. The business of local government had become my circadian rhythm. I am proud of that commitment. But I also need better time management to sustain the work ahead.

Professional and development. Kindness. Gratitude. #HWPO (hard work pays off). See you in the new year Lincoln County.