Goodbye from Finance Consultant Mike Bailey
I understand a tradition here at the Municipal Research and Services Center is for a departing staff member to say “goodbye” in a blog post. I’m pleased to oblige as it gives me some space to provide perspective and credit to others for a very rewarding career.
Wow! That’s kind of what I think when I look back over the past forty years. I started in this profession in 1980 at Pierce County working at the Community Action Agency. Over the years I’ve been able to serve a metropolitan parks district and several cities. I’ve been able to be active in the professional associations at both the state and national level. My stint here at MRSC over the past two years has allowed me to contribute to improved outcomes in numerous communities around the state. Some needed help balancing their checkbooks and others are already doing great work and just working to get better.
There are too many people to thank and mention and doing so creates the risk of leaving someone out. That said, I’ve worked with many outstanding public servants over the past 40 years. Early in my career I was hired by Stephen K.H. Auyoung. He set a high bar for both myself and those who mentored me afterward. Ironically, I was needing someone for an interview panel a few years after leaving the county, and when I asked Stephen, he asked if he couldn’t apply for the job instead! So I worked for him and then he worked for me (actually, in both cases it was more of a partnership — which provided a valuable life lesson in leadership). Bill Cushman was an English major in college but an outstanding budget director in life. Working alongside Bill brings back many memories I still reflect on and cherish. Jay Covington looms large in my memories of great leaders. Those who know Jay (who is now retired and raising potatoes in Idaho) remember the great work he did over the years as City Administrator in Renton. Again, it felt like more of a partnership than an employer/employee relationship: I still refer to some of the work we did there as best practice examples on a national level. Jan Jutte not only was a great public service leader and friend; we also had a lot of fun serving our respective communities together. Tracy Burrows ably leads the MRSC team in providing essential consultation and advice. I’ve always hoped and planned to work with this team. Many helped me along the way as parts of my team. Irene Banschbach is toward the top of that list, along with the late Trudy Wright at Everett.
Outside of my employment I was able to be active in the professional associations. I met many excellent public servants in this regard as well. Good friendships remain (such as Ade Ariwoola, Toni Nelson, John Fishbein, and many others). My work at both the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and the Washington Finance Officers Association (WFOA) resulted in many great life experiences and opportunities to both serve the organizations as well as those in these groups that, in turn, serve their communities.
Some partnerships in service loom large in these memories. John Fishbein, of the GFOA and I must have conducted one-hundred trainings over the years around the country. We’ve worked together on many projects at GFOA and I’m proud of the improvement I’ve seen in this work around the country as a result. Toni Nelson and I have likewise presented dozens (maybe hundreds) of times together for WFOA, MRSC, the Association of Washington Cities (AWC), and others. Toni is the small-entity expert and complemented my medium-sized city experience very well. It was bittersweet conducting our last session together, as we did just recently for the WFOA.
Lastly, I want to reflect on the support system that is always necessary in a successful career. My wife Debbie has been my life partner through all of this. We married prior to my joining the Air Force where I attended college, earning my bachelor’s degree while on active duty. Within one year I was able to complete the master’s degree and pass the CPA exam. In the meantime, we had four wonderful children. You can see why a strong support system was necessary during these foundational years!
One of the life accomplishments Debbie and I are most proud of is being the first in each of our households to earn post high school degrees; and then see our four children through to earning their degrees! In fact, each of our four children has a post graduate degree and is now actively engaged in a profession and raising their families.
With that, it’s time to trim my sails a bit and say adieu to MRSC. I appreciate the support and opportunities provided to me over the years and I look forward to staying connected with the many friends we’ve made along the way. Gratia vobis et pax.
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