Dan Evans would serve America well | Brunell

Dan Evans. COURTESY PHOTO

Recently, family, friends and dignitaries gathered at Hurricane Ridge near Port Angeles to celebrate the designation of the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness at Olympic National Park honoring Washington’s distinguished three-term governor and U.S. Senator.

Today, America needs a calming voice of reason – a steady and measured leader with the strength, experience, and ability to unify our nation. Daniel J. Evans fits that mold.

At 91, Evans is still spry and fit. His legacy is he worked with Democrats as well as Republicans to get things done. They trusted him.

“In fact, to be called a ‘Dan Evans Republican’ still today bespeaks a high calling of bipartisanship and effectiveness in public service,” long-time Democrat Congressman Norm Dicks (Bremerton) told the Seattle Times.

Evans grew up in Seattle and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. After graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1943, he served in the Navy as an ensign during World War II. Before returning to active duty as a lieutenant in 1951 during the Korean War, Evans earned bachelor and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Washington.

He was first elected to the state legislature from Seattle in 1956 and in 1964 defeated two-time Democrat Gov. Albert Rosellini.

As governor, Evans quickly rose to national prominence. In 1968, his Republican Convention keynote speech landed him on the cover of Time Magazine that August. There was talk of Evans being Richard Nixon’s running mate. That was just talk. However, in 1976, Gerald Ford had Evans on the final list before picking Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas

In 1983, Gov. John Spellman (R) appointed Evans to replace the late Henry “Scoop” Jackson, who died suddenly while serving in the U.S. Senate. Evans won election to the Senate before retiring in 1989.

Evans was a champion for the environment. In the U.S. Senate, he authored the Washington Wilderness Act setting aside 1.5 million acres of federal wildlands. While governor, he convened a special legislative session in 1970 to authorize setting up the Dept. of Ecology.

Evans led our state through tumultuous and fragile times.

Our nation was torn apart by the Vietnam War and student protests. The tipping point came on May 4, 1970 when Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on Kent State University protestors killing four students and wounding nine others. A nation-wide strike by four million people ensued shutting down the entire country.

Evan quickly recognized his job was to restore order and calm the outrage here in Washington.

As governor, Evans faced challenging economic times. The so-called Boeing Bust in the early 1970s saw Seattle’s unemployment rate soar to 25 percent. At the time, Boeing accounted for 45 percent of the region‘s economy and its 103,000 workforce was slashed in half.

Fast-forwarding to 2017, America needs a Dan Evans-like leader – one who has his experience, skill and temperament. Our country has faced tough divisive times before and survived because of elected officials like Evans.

We also could use a dose of his humility—a humility I saw first-hand in 1967 when, as a University of Montana student, I was hired to run the photo lab at the Western Governor’s Conference in West Yellowstone.

At the time, the media attention was focused on California Gov. Ronald Reagan whose visit was well choreographed. Reagan flew in, arrived at the conference by stagecoach, gave the banquet address, and immediately jetted back to Sacramento leaving Evans and his colleagues to do the conference’s work.

Dan Evans arrived unceremoniously with his family, rolled up his sleeves and quietly worked with his colleagues to accomplish a regional agenda. Isn’t that what we need today – a half-century later?

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.

More in Opinion

Sen. Mona Das. COURESY PHOTO
After a senator’s claim is debunked, a call for an apology

The GOP wants a Democratic senator held to account for accusations which an investigation found to be false

Mitsubishi launching into regional jet space

Traditionally, media coverage of the Paris Air Show focuses on the battle… Continue reading

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease this Grandparents Day

Pacific Medical Centers doctor shares top signs of the disease, as well as tips to maintain cognitive health

Gov. Jay Inslee. REPORTER FILE PHOTO
Inslee passes up a chance to confront corporate ‘blackmail’

Governor skipped a meeting about tax breaks, he said, Boeing squeezed out of the state.

Parents and adult fans: biggest challenge facing high school sports today

By Karissa Niehoff and Mick Hoffman, for the Reporter Inappropriate adult behavior… Continue reading

Libraries are welcoming spaces for everyone

King County Library System is committed to inclusion – the idea that… Continue reading

It is time to talk about our national debt

Our nation is on an unsustainable borrowing trajectory and it could get… Continue reading

Tribes outraged by EPA move to roll back improved water quality standards

Treaty Indian tribes in Western Washington are outraged that the Environmental Protection… Continue reading

Publisher’s decision to limit e-book access is bad news for library patrons

A recent decision by a book publisher to limit public libraries’ access… Continue reading

State’s new voting system passes key test

Whew. Tuesday’s primary marked the electoral debut of VoteWa, and the sparkling… Continue reading

Careful not to follow Sweden’s haste | Brunell

Sweden and Washington state are very similar. Both have strong “green” movements… Continue reading

Got your grill on? Hot Coals – great for Burgers, bad for garbage

Summer has finally arrived in Auburn. The sun is shining, gardens are… Continue reading