Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Jan 21 2009

The Inauguration of President Obama

Published by at 3:25 pm under Featured

On the morning of January 20, 2009, my wife Joanne and I awoke at 4:00 am, in a relative’s home in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. We arrived at the Park and Ride (which is also known as a “Kiss and Ride”) at 5:00 a.m. to get on the one hour rapid transit system known as “Metro.” The other riders were all excited about the events of the day and the only topic of conversation was the inauguration. We made about 10 friends who were sitting around us when they found out Joanne and I were from Seattle. When we arrived around the Capitol, we immediately found a Starbucks close by for our obligatory coffee and oatmeal and then we headed for the Purple section to see patrons who were already in line. The ground control and organization of the lines were incredibly bad or more accurately stated, nonexistent, which required some strategy and confidence to find out how to position myself and Joanne for, what can only be described as a determined posture of entrance. We were literally smashed with Americans on every side of each other but we held hands to avoid separation. When in line, we ran into Deborah Horne from KIRO TV and shared some thoughts with her. We finally got inside the gates and passed security and positioned ourselves with new-found friends to experience a “once in a lifetime” celebration.

I must share with you, even though I had two socks on each foot, my feet were frozen despite the adrenalin and excitement that I was feeling.

As I waited with anticipation amongst nearly 2 million people in the cold of our Nation’s Capitol, a historical moment is upon us. I cannot help but to reflect on the magnitude of this moment. Not just because President Obama is the first African American to hold this office, it is also because of the condition of how our country finds itself and the hope and inspiration that President Obama espouses. His call for us to get on our feet and perform as necessary in order to make this country the beacon for all things great and just are truly inspirational and go far beyond the ideological dysfunction of the political scene. It is not about the ideals of Democrats and Republicans, but more about what is smart and right. To quote the President: “on this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” This sort of holistic thinking is what inspires me about where our country is headed.

I am inspired by his message that we need to reaffirm the greatness of our nation, but that greatness is never handed to you—it must be earned. President Obama stated that “starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” His message is a call for us to innovate and lead in areas of green energy generation, progressive and accessible medical care, and re-investment in our schools. Not to mention smart geo-politics, where our country will once again be seen as an ally and not an adversary, forceful and decisive when and where it is warranted.

As Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, I look forward to the progressive thinking of this Administration and what it may bring as we seek out new and renewable methods of keeping the lights on. In Seattle, we are already fortunate that the forward thinking of J.D. Ross gave us clean efficient hydroelectric power generation. I would like to see us progress to and harness the power of wind, sun, geothermal and biomass. This will not only ensure our energy security, it will also ensure that we turn the tide on the sustainability of our planet. Seattle City Light ratepayers will see significant rate stability and service if the Obama administration proceeds with investments on the energy infrastructure like Smart Grid technology. I am determined to make sure that Seattle City Light becomes a strategic asset and leader for our region as our world embraces a green economy. We have the people, the know-how and the talent. Now all we need is the commitment, which is something we can control.

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