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Marysville community pays tribute to Swenson

MARYSVILLE — Recently retired Marysville Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson’s 32-plus years of service to the city were honored by family members, friends and hundreds of current and former colleagues at the Tulalip Resort May 20.

City of Marysville Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew opened the evening’s program by joking that Marysville had actually been named in anticipation of Swenson’s arrival to the town. Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall followed by noting that Swenson had received letters of appreciation from U.S. senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Gov. Christine Gregoire, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon and former Marysville Mayor Dave Weiser.

State Rep. John McCoy, of the Tulalip Tribes, credited Swenson with helping to foster better relations between the Tribes and the city, while former City Administrator John Garner credited much of his own success in that role to the assistance of Swenson, who served as his executive secretary.

“She kept me out of trouble,” Garner said. “She was extremely loyal.”

Daryl Brennick, former City Council member and former mayor of Marysville, characterized Swenson as “humble, dedicated, committed, flexible, cheerful and hard-working. I literally can’t say enough good things about her.”

“When I came into this job, I didn’t know anything about anything,” Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson said. “Mary was a big help, because she knew everything about everything. Mary, you’re just the best.”

Former city administrators Carolyn Sanden and Dave Zabell both praised Swenson’s political savvy, with Sanden expressing pride in having promoted Swenson to assistant city administrator during her own tenure, while former Marysville Police Chief Bob Carden spoke of Swenson’s concern for his officers and the city’s other employees.

“When I grew up, she was this soccer mom who took me on vacations,” said Cameron Ahern, Swenson’s nephew, to laughter from the crowd. “I’m shocked to hear that she’s led this dual life of running a city. So, for being the mother to an entire community, I say to her, ‘Good job.’”

City Attorney Grant Weed recalled how he and Swenson had traded tales of events in the city that they believed would qualify as stranger than fiction, while Marysville Fire Chief Greg Corn lauded Swenson for always maintaining her sense of humor.

“She’s not afraid to present all sides of an issue, even those she disagrees with,” Marysville City Council member Jon Nehring said. “I slept better at night knowing she had the best interests of our citizens at heart.”

Before he was the city of Marysville’s Public Information Officer, Doug Buell was a reporter who appreciated the treatment he received from Swenson.

“So, she cares,” Buell said, to laughter from the crowd. “She’s a very grounded person. Mary, I’ve learned so much from you as a coach, a mentor, a leader and a friend.”

Gloria Hirashima, Swenson’s replacement as chief administrative officer for the city, cited Swenson’s positive attitude and enthusiasm as impacting public perception for the better, while Public Works Director Kevin Nielsen and Finance Director Sandy Langdon agreed that Swenson motivated them to get things done quickly.

After she received a resolution from the City Council and a key to the city from Kendall, Swenson thanked her family, including her husband, her children, her brothers and her in-laws, for sharing her with the city and providing her with moral support over the years. Although her parents have since passed on, she also thanked them for instilling their work ethic in her.

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