All Politics is Local

One last post before I go

Before my junior year at Fort Vancouver High School, I’d heard warnings from upperclassmen about Mary Beth Kelly, who taught honors English.  She was strict, bordering on mean. She had very high standards.  I have no idea why we referred to her by her full name outside class instead of Ms. Kelly or Mrs. Kelly, but it somehow made her all the more terrifying.

Even today, 24 years after I was her student, I’m nervous she might read this post. She could print it out and send it to me, covered in red editing marks.

I give this context to explain why, when she suggested I write for the student newspaper, I took her seriously and signed up to write for the paper my senior year. I doubt she remembers me or making the remark, but her suggestion led me to discover what I wanted to study. I went on to work at student newspapers at Clark College and Western Washington University.  After summer internships at The Columbian and The Seattle Times, I started at The Columbian in October 1996, the fall after graduating from WWU.

I’ve been at The Columbian ever since, with the exception of a 10-month break.

I started as a features writer before moving on to breaking news. I covered Camas and Washougal and the Columbia River Gorge, back in the days when a visible home in the National Scenic Area was the subject of a legal fight that went to the Washington Supreme Court. I covered the courts for a decade before leaving the newspaper in 2009. I returned in 2010 to cover Clark County government and I currently cover the city of Vancouver.

I’m ready for a change. Monday will be my last day at the newspaper. On Thursday I’m starting work as an investigator for a law firm. So this will be my final post for All Politics is Local, unless Mayor Tim Leavitt takes his shirt off again. Actually, you know what? Not even then. Topless Tim is so 2011.

While I’m excited to move on, I’m still thankful to Mary Beth Kelly for suggesting I write for the school newspaper.  I am thankful to have spent nearly 18 years at a daily newspaper, considering full-time employment at daily newspapers in the United States peaked when I was a freshman in high school. I’m thankful to the sources who returned my calls, and to the people who allowed me to tell their stories. I’ve had a lot of fun and – brag alert! – picked up some regional and national journalism awards along the way, but the highs match the lows. (Tyler Graf and Erik Hidle did such a hilarious job addressing the lows in their farewell posts I won’t bother.)

There are aspects to this job I won’t miss, but I will miss writing for All Politics is Local.

When I helped start this blog in December 2010, myself and the other local government reporters wanted a place where we could share anecdotes that weren’t newsy enough for a story but were still entertaining or noteworthy. In 2014, it was the most-read blog on our website.

So, thanks to elected officials for giving us so much material. Thanks to the characters who attend local meetings – may you one day travel to a place in the world where there is an actual dictator, so you can perhaps realize how ridiculous you sound. (To the trolls who don’t attend meetings, may you one day leave your basements.) And thanks to the people who interacted with me on Twitter during public meetings. Misery really does love company.

Above all, thank you for reading.

Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.