OLYMPIA – After more than a decade of service in the Washington state Legislature, Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) announced today that he will retire from the Senate when his current term ends in December 2022 rather than seek re-election to a fourth term.
“When I first ran for office in 2010, I saw a need for new leadership in our community,” said Frockt. “Representing the people of North Seattle, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore since then has been a distinct honor where I have been afforded the chance to work on some of the greatest challenges facing our state. But I came to this job with the firm conviction that the privilege of public service does not confer a right to a position that one holds forever, and for me, the time has come for renewal.”
In the Legislature, Frockt, now 52, earned a reputation as an effective advocate for progressive causes who could work across party lines, sponsoring successful legislation on many of the Senate Democrats’ top priority issues—including higher education, gun violence, health care and the environment.
“Sen. Frockt is both a good friend and a gifted legislator,” said Senate Majority Leader Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane). “I am grateful for his service to our state. He has been a leader on so many important issues, particularly health care, higher education and the capital budget. While his departure at the end of 2022 will be a big loss for our caucus and the Legislature, I am glad that we have a final session to work together and celebrate his many achievements. The people of his district and our state will benefit from his thoughtful legislation for generations to come.”
Early in his career, Frockt served in a series of caucus leadership positions including deputy Democratic leader. In more recent years, he served as vice chair of the Ways & Means Committee with primary responsibility for the capital budget, where he funded projects to provide more affordable housing, increase access to behavioral health services, build out Washington’s community and four-year colleges, and clean up and conserve Washington’s natural environment. In the 2021 budget, he created a new rapid housing fund that is helping to provide new units right now in Seattle and around the state. He was also the sponsor and architect of Cascade Care, the nation’s first state-based public option for health care insurance coverage.
“Sen. Frockt has been an outstanding legislator for our city and our state,” said Rep. Frank Chopp (D-Seattle). “He came to the Legislature for the right reasons. He doesn’t look for headlines. Instead, he looks for opportunities to act in ways that will help people who need it the most. He leaves a tremendous legacy in many areas, especially in affordable housing and health care. Thousands of low-income and homeless people have benefited from his work. His leadership in helping create the first public option in health care, Cascade Care, will have a tremendous positive impact on so many people’s lives. His departure will be a huge loss for the people of Washington state.”
Frockt played significant roles in many of the most pressing challenges that Washington addressed in the last decade, serving as chair of the bipartisan committee that communicated with the Supreme Court on education funding after the McCleary decision; on the Joint Legislative Task Force on the Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing, where his amendment to move the state toward an objective reasonable officer standard was eventually incorporated into laws passed by the voters and the legislature; and most recently as chair of the Senate’s bipartisan COVID-19 Special Committee on Economic Recovery. Many of the committee’s recommendations were eventually incorporated into law or into the state budget.
In 2015, he introduced the state’s first proposed legislation on Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which, while blocked in the Senate, eventually became law after being passed by the voters in nearly every legislative district in the state. He led in the creation of a new college savings program that gives families additional options to pay for higher education. And he sponsored a major reform of the oil tax, leading to substantial new funding for toxic cleanups across the state. All told, nearly 60 bills that Frockt either prime-sponsored or carried in the Senate have become law during his tenure. Many of these bills were passed while Democrats were the minority party in the Legislature, a demonstration of his ability to work across party lines to get things accomplished.
“David will be leaving a legacy to both his district and the state,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. “He leads with a passion for helping others and an ability to cut through political noise to make really strong, progressive public policy. His integrity, humble demeanor, and sense of humor make him someone that his colleagues trust and enjoy working with. He’s just an all-around great person, and I’m glad we get him for one more year.”
Prior to joining the Legislature, Frockt served as an aide on Capitol Hill to a U.S. Representative. After stints in the private sector, university research and law school, Frockt practiced law in Seattle for 13 years. Additionally, he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2000.
In a letter to constituents today, Frockt wrote, “I recognize, as we all do, the many real problems we still face—from climate change to health care to continued gun violence, among many others. I intend to continue to play a role in civic life to advance solutions. I look forward to finishing out my term in 2022 representing you as vigorously as I can to help solve our common problems.