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.