Pignanelli: "Mommy and Daddy are you crying?" asked one of my children last Sunday afternoon. Both my wife and I were indeed wiping tears from our cheeks, having learned of Senator Ed Mayne's passing. Similar emotions were displayed in thousands of Utah homes last week. The loss of Eddie Mayne ripped a chunk from our soul.
The media reports detailing Ed Mayne's life focused on his legislative and labor movement achievements, which were impressive. But Ed was more than just an officeholder or advocate. He played numerous roles: conscience to Utah politicians and employers; papa bear to the Democratic Party while overseeing its resurrection in the mid-1980s; mentoring numerous young politicos (including Randy Horiuchi, Blaze Wharton, Kelly Atkinson, Janet Rose, Grant Protzman, Kurt Oscarson, Gene Davis, Dave Spatafore, Wayne Holland, D'Arcy Dixon and me); and playing peacemaker during our incessant fractional squabbles. He and his incredible wife, Karen, set the standard of coequal political partners who loved and respected each other-long before Bill and Hillary were known. No one was prouder of his children. But we gravitated to Ed for deeper causes.
The day after he left us, I was attending to business at the state Capitol and bumped into a veteran legislative staffer who also expressed sorrow. She articulated that "Sen. Mayne never mistreated anyone. In his book, all persons deserved respect." This is lofty praise from a longtime witness to state officials who routinely thump their chests proclaiming high morals and then abuse their employees. Because Ed lived as he believed that all people must be treated with dignity he was beloved.
His compassion carried over into his professional and political activities. He could excoriate Republicans and management with passion and anger but without personal attacks. He abhorred many policies of business leaders and Republican officeholders but rarely demonized individuals. They too deserved respect, according to Ed. This is why so many of his political and labor opponents praised him in public and attended his funeral.
Democrats oftentimes fell astray from his political bearings. It was easy to determine who was on his naughty list. It was those Democrats mumbling that Ed was out of touch and did not understand modern economics. Such statements were ineffective cover-ups from the ensuing pain for having disappointed him.
But Ed was not some remote saint whose virtuous life was unattainable to us mortals. We loved Ed because he was very human with a multitude of wonderful vices. (The last time I saw Ed in October, he was mapping out fantasy football trades from his hospital bed.) During many legislative sessions, he held court at Diamond Lil's with Democratic legislators, labor leaders and a few brave Republicans where we gorged on prime rib and apple pie. His hunting follies are the stuff of legend, and he loved visiting Wendover with Karen.
We loved Eddie because he was sincere, real and never deviated from his fundamental philosophy that every person was entitled to dignity, compassion and the opportunity to work. This is not a new concept. Indeed, three weeks from now many of us will be celebrating the birthday of another activist who articulated similar beliefs.
Goodbye, Eddie. We will miss you.
Webb: As I have worked with candidates and clients over the years, I've often thought about what makes a terrific political leader. I don't believe there is a perfect formula or personality type for either political or business success. A variety of types of people can be high achievers in the political and business worlds if they have the smarts, gumption and are willing to work extremely hard.
But clearly certain character traits are requisite for a long and successful career in politics. One is simple genuineness. People like leaders who are who they seem to be, flaws and all. A phony can fool folks for a while, but the real person behind the facade eventually comes through. Voters, over time, are pretty good judges of character.
A second requirement for long-term success is to truly care about people. People can sense if someone cares, particularly by the way they listen. It comes through in how they interact with people, how they work a room, give a speech, work with constituents and deal with problems and crises.
Ed Mayne clearly exemplified those two traits. I was obviously not in his circle of friends, but I interacted with him on many occasions and always found him to be warm, gracious, genuine and willing to listen.
Over the years I have dealt with many people of wealth and power. Some of them were unhappy and miserable.
Republican LaVarr Webb was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. He now is a political consultant and lobbyist. E-mail: [email protected]. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. A former candidate for Salt Lake mayor, he served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as House minority leader. Pignanelli's spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a Utah state tax commissioner. E-mail: [email protected].