Representative Ruth Kagi
Representative Ruth Kagi

Anoth­er senior mem­ber of the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture’s House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus has decid­ed to retire this year instead of seek­ing reelection.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ruth Kagi (D‑32nd Dis­trict: Shore­line, Seat­tle, Edmonds) announced today that this will be her last term in office. She joins Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Judy Clib­born (D‑41st Dis­trict: Mer­cer Island, Belle­vue, New­cas­tle) in say­ing adieu.

“The great­est hon­or of my life has been the oppor­tu­ni­ty to serve in the House as a cham­pi­on for chil­dren and fam­i­lies,” said Kagi in a news release.

“Ruth is the con­science of our cau­cus when it comes to chil­dren and fam­i­lies,” House Speak­er Frank Chopp said. “With her lead­er­ship, the Leg­is­la­ture changed the way the state views ear­ly learn­ing chal­lenges, trans­form­ing the way we address these issues from sep­a­rate com­po­nents to a holis­tic approach.”

“It’s been a long jour­ney, and I’m proud of the work we’ve accom­plished on a bi-par­ti­san basis,” Kagi said. “I will dear­ly miss my col­leagues and the excel­lent staff who work so dili­gent­ly to make Wash­ing­ton a bet­ter place to live.”

Kagi was first elect­ed to the House in 1999 and has served in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for two decades. She has chaired the House Ear­ly Learn­ing and Human Ser­vices Com­mit­tee since 2002.

The House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus cit­ed Kag­i’s main accom­plish­ments as follows:

  • In 2017, spear­head­ed the cre­ation of the Depart­ment of Chil­dren, Youth, and Fam­i­lies, which unit­ed pro­grams and ser­vices that had been scat­tered among oth­er state agencies.
  • In 2015, spon­sored the Ear­ly Start Act ‚which expand­ed high qual­i­ty ear­ly learn­ing to thou­sands of Wash­ing­ton children.
  • Led the effort in 2002 to reform the state’s drug sen­tenc­ing laws.

Kagi was among those Democ­rats who vot­ed in favor of bail­ing out char­ter schools after the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court ruled the ini­tia­tive that autho­rized them to be uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, a vote that upset many of her constituents.

The 32nd is one of Wash­ing­ton’s bluer leg­isla­tive dis­tricts, so it is pos­si­ble that the con­test to replace Kagi could fea­ture two Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates run­ning against each oth­er in Novem­ber 2018. The dis­trict has many tal­ent­ed and able elect­ed lead­ers serv­ing at the city lev­el who may be inter­est­ed in leg­isla­tive service.

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.

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