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Scott White: 1970-2011

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…


  1. Posted October 22nd, 2011 at 3:45 PM | Permalink

    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. Wendy Everett
    Posted October 22nd, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Permalink

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

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  1. By Morning Rundown for October 24th, 2011 on October 24th, 2011 at 9:33 AM

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