Dear colleagues, 

On the wall in my office is a framed poster from the 1950 Pendleton Roundup. Yup, I lived in Pendleton at the time. On a bright orange background, it features a cowboy on a wild bucking bronco, and is captioned “LET ‘ER BUCK.” I have been riding that bucking bronco as a Washington state legislator and have managed to stay on that bronco through 10 elections and nearly 24 years. However, the time has come to let somebody else face the challenge and reward of being a state senator. I am announcing that I will not seek reelection in 2024; it is time for someone else to climb in the saddle. 

During my time in the Legislature—16 years in the House and eight in the Senate—I have seen a lot of changes and worked on many bills that became law, and many that did not. I am particularly proud that under my guidance, we have the most secure, accurate, and accessible election system in the country. Washington is a model for other states to follow. Serving as chair of the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee and subsequently chair of the Senate State Government and Elections Committee, we passed landmark legislation, including vote-by-mail, online and election day voter registration, paid return postage for mailed ballots, secure state-funded ballot drop boxes, and a meaningful presidential primary election law. As a union member and state employee, it was an honor to work to pass collective bargaining for state employees. Laws I sponsored to reduce mercury in the environment have sharply reduced the use of this dangerous chemical in products.  

My career in Olympia began in 1980 when I came to work for the Washington State Senate. I also worked for Governor Booth Gardner and the Department of Information Services (now part of DES) before being elected to the House of Representatives. 

Here’s a photo Washington State Archives provided from my first year in office, 2001.

During my legislative tenure I also served on the House Appropriations, Natural Resources, Rules, Labor, and K-12 Education Committees and Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education and Ways & Means Committees. In addition, I served 11 years as the chair of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, starting what is the longest consecutive time as the majority party in the House. I was involved in advocating for considerable civil rights measures, including the state’s landmark marriage equality law. 

We have seen impressive increases in funding for education from preschool through higher education, including the Elson Floyd School of Medicine at Washington State University (GO COUGS!), the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a wider Interstate 5 between Olympia and Seattle and improvements to I-90 across Snoqualmie Pass. The list of major accomplishments is, indeed, very long. 

I would like to thank the many legislators with whom I have served, as well as the bright and dedicated staff who enable the Legislature to do its work. Without civility among members working together and the excellent staff, Washington would not be in the great shape we find it today. 

It has been a gift to have Meagan Arndt as my Legislative Assistant through all 24 years in the House and Senate. I could not have done this job without her help and expertise. She keeps me on task and on schedule. I owe a very special thanks to my family, my late wife Charlene who was always there to assist and support, my son Nathan and his wife Amanda, my daughter Hillary and grandson Rory for all the support and encouragement while putting up with me during my time in office. Finally, a special thanks to my dear friend Roberta Stanley for her support and assistance. I look forward to my next chapter and new challenges. 

It has been a great ride! “Let ‘er Buck!”