I was disappointed to learn that Jason Johnson, a long-time public servant overseeing programs for many of our city’s most vulnerable people and the interim director of Seattle’s Human Services Department, is stepping down. The resignation of Mr. Johnson and other public servants after their work and teams are maligned on television by elected officials should not be a surprise and is, I believe, a loss for our City. I agree with Mayor Jenny Durkan’s praise for the public service of Mr. Johnson and his workers.
Going forward, I hope elected officials can be champions of the causes we support while remembering that the human beings sitting on the other side of our Committee table or working in the field as first responders are dedicated public servants whose careers, expertise, and humanity deserve respect — whether we agree or disagree with the information or the policy they are presenting. As emerging challenges such as the coronavirus reveal, we need a productive and respectful environment to attract and retain public servants who are experienced and ready to do the hard work in the field that elected officials on the dais don’t have the experience to do.
We must be better than the negative national political discourse: we already should know it’s unproductive for the public we serve when elected officials engage in tirades, name-calling, insinuations, and cross-examining of a public servants’ motivations rather than redirecting that energy toward solutions.