Trag­ic news from Roslyn tonight: State Sen­a­tor Scott White, who has capa­bly rep­re­sent­ed Seat­tle’s 46th Dis­trict in the state Leg­is­la­ture since the begin­ning of 2009, was found dead in his room at the Sun­ca­dia Resort after house­keep­ing staff noticed that he had failed to check out.

The cause of death is cur­rent­ly unknown, but it may have been a heart attack. We’ll have to wait until an autop­sy is con­duct­ed to know more.

All of us at NPI are deeply griev­ed by this unex­pect­ed loss. Scott was a great friend, a loy­al sup­port­er of NPI, a knowl­edge­able and smart leg­is­la­tor, and a won­der­ful father. He was wide­ly con­sid­ered to have a bright future ahead of him.

Scott served for sev­er­al years as the chair of the 46th Dis­trict Democ­rats; along with Tina Orwall, he also co-chaired the King Coun­ty Democ­rats’ Leg­isla­tive Action Com­mit­tee before becom­ing a state leg­is­la­tor. He was elect­ed to the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 2008, and to the state Sen­ate last year.

The Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus, rec­og­niz­ing his orga­niz­ing skills, quick­ly tapped him for the post of major­i­ty whip, an impor­tant lead­er­ship position.

Scott White with colleagues
Scott White con­fers with col­leagues on the floor of the state House dur­ing the 2010 leg­isla­tive ses­sion (Pho­to: Wash­ing­ton State Legislature)

Scott worked tire­less­ly dur­ing the 2011 leg­isla­tive ses­sion to find a way to empow­er King Coun­ty’s elect­ed lead­ers to raise more mon­ey for Metro, which was in dan­ger of hav­ing routes elim­i­nat­ed and ser­vice reduced due to a rev­enue shortfall.

In the spring, he suc­cess­ful­ly got a bill through the House and Sen­ate giv­ing King Coun­ty the author­i­ty to levy a vehi­cle fee for Metro, and then, dur­ing the sum­mer, he worked with King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine and Deputy Exec­u­tive Fred Jar­rett to line up the votes on the coun­ty coun­cil to enact the fee.

Undoubt­ed­ly, that leg­isla­tive tri­umph will be part of his lega­cy. Every King Coun­ty Metro rid­er owes Scott White a heart­felt thank-you. If it weren’t for Scott, Metro would have had to begun evis­cer­at­ing itself.

For the past two years, Scott served on the host com­mit­tee for our 2011 Spring Fundrais­ing Gala, help­ing to orga­nize and pro­mote NPI’s most impor­tant event. Scott believed that build­ing pro­gres­sive infra­struc­ture was impor­tant, and he believed that think­ing long-term was crucial.

I’ve always been grate­ful for his encour­age­ment. And his will­ing­ness to listen.

Our deep­est con­do­lences go out to Ali­son (Scot­t’s wife) and his fam­i­ly. Scott leaves behind two young chil­dren, ages three and five, who will have to grow up with­out the father they loved. They are cer­tain­ly in our thoughts and prayers tonight.

“My heart goes out to the fam­i­ly of Sen­a­tor Scott White tonight,” Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire said in a state­ment. “Scott was a ded­i­cat­ed pub­lic ser­vant and cham­pi­on of impor­tant issues in Olympia. He was nev­er afraid to tack­le the dif­fi­cult prob­lems — and did so with a pos­i­tive atti­tude, which I always appreciated.”

“I am stunned to learn the awful news of Scot­t’s unex­pect­ed death,” said King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine. “Scott was a col­league and a friend, a ris­ing star in the Leg­is­la­ture, and a cham­pi­on for his dis­trict and for King County.”

“Scot­t’s sense of pur­pose led to his elec­tion first to the State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and then to the State Sen­ate, where I came to rely upon his lead­er­ship to pro­vide the means for us to save bus ser­vice in King County.”

“Scott had a vision, and he delivered.”

“Today Seat­tle lost one of its promis­ing lead­ers,” agreed Seat­tle May­or Mike McGinn. “A man of intel­li­gence, humor and com­pas­sion, State Sen­a­tor Scott White was a devot­ed pub­lic ser­vant, father and hus­band. Seat­tle, King Coun­ty and Wash­ing­ton are a bet­ter place as a result of Scot­t’s ser­vice and he will be dear­ly missed.”

“I am deeply sad­dened by the shock­ing news that Sen­a­tor Scott White has passed away,” said King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Bob Fer­gu­son, the like­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee for attor­ney gen­er­al in 2012.

“He was a hard­work­ing, tena­cious advo­cate for our shared con­stituents in the 46th Dis­trict as he fought for edu­ca­tion, the envi­ron­ment and tran­sit. His fam­i­ly, espe­cial­ly his wife and young chil­dren, are in my prayers.”

“I’m so sad that my dear friend Scott White has passed away,” added State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tina Orwall. “He was so clever, ambi­tious and kind. He was always there to give me good advice dur­ing our time c0-chair­ing the LAC and as we entered the leg­is­la­ture together.”

“I will miss you, my friend,” she con­clud­ed. “My thoughts and prayers are with your family.”

Scot­t’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues in the state Sen­ate have post­ed a num­ber of remem­brances, which can be viewed here.

FROM STEVE ZEMKE: Democ­rats lost a true friend with the death of State Sen­a­tor Scott White. At forty-one, his life seemed full of promise and hope and it is sad and trag­ic that some­one so active, car­ing and con­cerned passed away. Our prayers go out to his wife Ali­son and their two chil­dren. Scott cared about peo­ple and our state and was some­one we all looked to for lead­er­ship and direc­tion in these try­ing times. We will all miss him.

FROM GAEL TARLETON: Jump to comment…

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts

3 replies on “Scott White: 1970–2011”

  1. Sen­a­tor Scott White stood tall among giants, both his pre­de­ces­sors and his peers. His sud­den pass­ing is a ter­ri­ble tragedy for his wife, his young chil­dren, their fam­i­lies, the 46th Dis­trict neigh­bor­hoods who count­ed on him to be their voice, and for all of us who grieve for a lost friend. Lead­er­ship is earned, not inherited…Scott led with his val­ues and that’s why he made such an extra­or­di­nary dif­fer­ence in his life, a life cut short decades too soon. So many times Scott and I ran into each oth­er at the Tul­ly’s on 45th and Brook­lyn in the U Dis­trict near our offices at UW. I will miss his wave. We will all miss his voice for dig­ni­ty and fair­ness. Our deep­est sym­pa­thies to his wife, Ali­son, and his two lit­tle ones. Rest in peace, Scott. 

  2. Just ter­ri­ble news. Can’t imag­ine what the fam­i­ly is going through. Pray­ing for them to get through this.

Comments are closed.