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AP: Washington Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown won’t seek re-election

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on May 3, 2012 at 10:21 am with No Comments »
January 28, 2013 6:30 pm

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown
Here’s the AP breaking news story:

APNewsBreak: Sen. Brown won’t seek re-election

By Rachel La Corte
Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) Sen. Majority Leader Lisa Brown announced Thursday that she won’t run for re-election and will leave her seat in the state Legislature after her term expires at the end of the year.

The Spokane Democrat said that after 20 years in the Legislature, she is ready to move on.

Brown, 55, said that she’ll keep her part-time position teaching classes at Gonzaga University in Spokane, but otherwise is going to “wait and see what comes along.”

“It wasn’t something I was planning to do, it was just one of those epiphanies,” she told The Associated Press.

She said that even after a tough legislative session followed by two special sessions, she had felt good about the work she and other senators had accomplished.

“It just felt like the right time, while I can still be open to other challenges,” she said.

She said she’s not running for any other office.

Brown has served as Senate majority leader for eight years, and before that she was minority leader for two years. Prior to that, she served in the House.

She is the second female majority leader in the Senate. The first was Republican Jeannette Hayner of Walla Walla, who retired in 1992 and died in 2010.

Democrats hold a 27-22 advantage in the Senate, but this year, three Democrats crossed the aisle to work with Republicans on a key budget vote, essentially giving Republicans leverage on budget-related issues.

About half of the Senate is up for re-election this year. Brown already had one Republican challenger lined up, Spokane councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin.

Spokane voters first elected Brown to the state House in 1992, and she joined the Senate in 1996. In 1993, she touched off a minor debate about working motherhood when she brought her then-toddler son, Lucas, onto the House floor during an evening session when her day care center closed.

Here is the text of Brown’s statement:

I have decided not to seek re-election to the 3rd district Senate seat this fall. Returning home two weeks ago, I began taking stock of my twenty years in the Legislature, reflecting on what I have been able to achieve with the help of colleagues and supporters. I decided that, though it is still immensely gratifying to serve Spokane and the state of Washington in this capacity, I am ready for new challenges.

During my tenure in the Legislature we have created in Spokane a health sciences education and research campus, which will be a centerpiece of our regional economy and will educate thousands of pharmacists, nurses, dentists, doctors, and other health professionals. The building that will house the University of Washington medical school and the Washington State University pharmacy received its final funding in this year’s capital budget.

I have also championed the clean-up and protection of the Spokane river, Spokane’s aerospace cluster, our film and video industry, and spearheaded the funding of the Fox Theater, the MAC, the refurbished YMCA/YWCA facilities, and numerous non-profits in Spokane, such as Crosswalk, the Northwest Autism Center and Sally’s House.

At the state level, I am most proud of my work to create mental health parity legislation, and my work on the state budget to enhance childcare and healthcare for working families. I am equally proud of my efforts to protect the state’s partnership with numerous non-profits who serve vulnerable people across the spectrum: abused and neglected children, the elderly, homeless people, and people with disabilities, and of our fourteen year fight to pass a simple majority plan for school levies.

Given the challenges of the recession and the reductions in the alternate budget proposed by the Senate Republicans, I am particularly pleased with this year’s final budget, which protected not only vital human service programs, but also made no further reductions to K-12 education or higher education.

I have been involved in the promotion of women’s rights and civil rights throughout my life and legislative career. This year’s path-breaking marriage equality and human-trafficking laws are two examples of the kind of legislation that originally motivated me to run for office. Serving as Ways and Means chair and then as the leader of my caucus for ten years has given me a tremendous opportunity to be deeply involved in all the major public policy issues facing our state and to work with talented elected officials and advocates.

I would like to thank Gov. Chris Gregoire and Speaker Frank Chopp for their leadership and for the productive relationship we have enjoyed for eight years. In particular, I appreciate the governor’s unwavering commitment to the economic future of Spokane and I want to thank the speaker for his dedication to the most vulnerable people in our state.

I will miss the incredibly dedicated staff of the state Senate and many of my colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle. In particular, I appreciated working with Sen. Jim Hargrove on mental health and human service funding, Sen. Ed Murray on marriage equality and the budget, Sens. Tracey Eide and Rosemary McAuliffe on simple majority, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles on gender equity, Sen. Derek Kilmer on economic development initiatives, Sen. Joe Zarelli on the Rainy Day fund constitutional amendment, Rep. Ruth Kagi on childcare and early learning, and my seatmates Timm Ormsby and Andy Billig on numerous Spokane initiatives.

Senate Democrats are well-positioned to continue to lead the state. I look forward to watching the careers of our seasoned members as well as our emerging leaders.

The people of Spokane have given me the tremendous honor of representing and serving them for twenty years. My son, Lucas, and many dear friends have accompanied me and supported me on this journey. I am immensely grateful to all of them.

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