Dear friends and family,

Last Friday, without any warning, the Senate Republicans voted not to confirm Lynn Peterson, the head of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Essentially, they fired her. This was the first time since our State was founded in 1889 that the Senate has exercised its right to fire a cabinet head.

For me, this was a blatantly obvious political spectacle and not the way our state should be managed. During floor debate, the Republicans claimed that the DOT has been mismanaged and used I-405 toll lanes and Bertha as proof for Ms. Peterson needing to be let go. I agree with many of the concerns raised about these projects. But what leaves a bad taste in my mouth is how the Senate Republicans went about the process of dismissing Ms. Peterson.

Just six months ago at Ms. Peterson’s confirmation hearing, the Republican chair of the Senate Transportation committee praised Ms. Peterson and her staff. He again echoed these comments in a hearing in January. Never once was Ms. Peterson told by the Senate that she wasn’t doing a good job or given feedback about what they now say they felt she should improve at the DOT.

As a small business owner, this isn’t how I would handle the situation. If an employee of mine is underperforming, I sit them down and identify what they are doing wrong and what they can do to improve. If they don’t meet these standards in a reasonable and understood amount of time, I let them go. I do this because I need to maintain credibility and reputation. No one is going to work for my business if they think they could be fired on a Friday afternoon without being given a reason, much less a fair chance to improve their performance in specific areas that I clearly identify. Arbitrarily firing someone without warning and without allowing them the chance to defend themselves is poor management and bad business.

The night after all this happened, I found it hard to sleep. I was and still am worried about how we are going to recruit outstanding individuals to be cabinet heads in the state of Washington. Why would anyone want to work somewhere where they could be subject to such embarrassing treatment? Would you want to work in a place like that?

As you know, I came to Olympia not to serve a particular party or agenda but to fight for what our community needs, period — and to stand up for what’s right.  What happened last Friday afternoon in Olympia was wrong. I look forward to working with my colleagues during the last five weeks of session to make sure we return to governing the State of Washington, not doing political stunts that make it harder for us to recruit and retain talented public servants.