Passing the BatonWhen I was in high school I was a sprinter.  Besides running the 100 and the 220-yard dashes, I was the anchor leg for the 440-yard relay and the mile relay.  For my four years of high school, I was the fastest sprinter we had on the team, so I was the last person to receive the baton during the relay races.  My team of three other young women counted on me to finish strong.

The track is a team sport so the points a team earns from all of the track and field events are combined and those points determine the school that wins the meet.  Whether you ran the hurdles, threw the shot put, or did the long jump, every point counted and each member was important to the success of the team.

I learned as a teenager that the most critical part of a relay race was the passing of the baton.  We could have the four fastest runners, but if the baton was bobbled or it wasn’t a smooth hand-off, we would lose precious time and it was very difficult to win the race.  If the baton was passed outside of the designated area, beyond our own lane, or if the baton was dropped, it meant you were disqualified.  We constantly practiced our hand-offs because if the baton was dropped, all of those months of hard work were for nothing and in less than 60 seconds it was over.

Yesterday, had my family trip to Mexico not been canceled, I could have missed my own “passing of the baton.” I have been a part of a regional collaboration of local governments for the past 16 years.  We work across jurisdictional lines to bring online permitting services to our development community.  The ECityGovAlliance, https://ecitygov.net, formed in 2002-2003 just as the internet was becoming popular. Hundreds of individuals came together and as a team, we did something great all for our customers.  A web platform called,

https://mybuildingpermit.com is now the way 20 local governments have collaborated to serve our community.

What started as a small idea has grown into something very important to our region and to our local economy.  Contractors and developers in a two-county region can go to one place and obtain multiple permits from multiple jurisdictions via a convenient website.

I’m so proud of my small part in this collaboration and I’ve made many friends over the years.  I have loved working with such hard-working public servants who, like me, put our residents and customers first.  As I retire, I realize that I’ll miss the important work we do and my role on the team.

Even though I should have been on vacation, I was invited to attend the monthly meeting.  About fifteen minutes before the Executive Board meeting started, there was a knock at my door and a florist delivered a beautiful vase of gorgeous flowers.  This was a huge surprise because I never receive flowers! When we started the zoom call, I was excited to see several board members and leaders from the past in attendance.

At first, I wasn’t sure what was happening.  But then I saw the first agenda item.  It was to thank me and welcome my deputy director!  It was humbling and overwhelming for me to listen to their thanks and gratitude for my years of service to the alliance and mybuildingpermit.com. I don’t think I was quite emotionally prepared for the stories and words they shared for about 45 minutes! It was heartwarming to be reminded of the past and appreciated for things I had long forgotten. I’m still processing what it has meant for me to be a contributor to such an amazing team and to share in our success.

At the end of this special time, I was able to figuratively “pass the baton” of leadership to my deputy director.  I am fully confident that he’ll be able to run the next leg of the race well. He is prepared, experienced, and ready to go.  I’m happy the hand-off went smoothly and I know that someday he’ll do the same thing.

I pulled a baton out of a closet and placed it next to my bouquet of flowers and took a picture to remember this day.  I’m not sure if I expected to be anxious or sad but I wasn’t.  At that moment yesterday, right after hearing so many kind and thoughtful comments, I felt a sense of peace and contentment.  

I had an image in my mind of standing on the track at Snohomish High School and watching my teammates run their race.  I’m realizing, in a very real way, that I have finished my leg of the race and now it is time to hand-off my baton to others.

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