During a joint session of the Washington Legislature, three of the state’s top elected officials said their farewells.
After 34 years in public office, State Auditor Brian Sonntag is retiring.
Democrat Troy Kelley will replace Sonntag.
Sonntag’s retirement comes after serving five terms in office. He was first elected in 1992, and during his time at the auditor’s office he’s built a reputation as being a champion of open government.
“Our state’s founders were a bunch of populists that didn’t really like or trust government very much,” Sonntag said.
Open government, Sonntag said, is a deeply held value of his. He said that it is something “citizens expect… and they deserve nothing less.”
Sonntag said that his interest in public service started in the sixth grade after hearing President Kennedy speak at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
Sonntag said that his office has a responsibility to make a difference and that he believes they have. He said that he is proud of their financial and performance audits.
“I’m proud of the work of our office.”
Following a career in public service that stretched more than four decades, Secretary of State Sam Reed is moving on.
Republican Kim Wyman will replace Reed.
Reed has been the state’s top election official since 2001 and is highly recognized for his handling of the 2004 gubernatorial race – the closest of its kind in US history. Lawmakers in the joint session laughed out loud when Reed joked about getting sued by both Republicans and Democrats following that election.
He also called politics a “noble calling” and said his office was able to institute extensive election reforms that have left Washington “the envy of the nation.”
Although he said he will be leaving public office tomorrow, he said he would not be leaving public service. He said he plans to continue working on his “signature issues of bipartisanship, civility, and moderation.”
Regarding his time in office: “It has been an amazing ride”
Attorney General Rob McKenna bid farewell to lawmakers and called his time in the A.G.’s office a “tremendous privilege.”
Democrat Bob Ferguson will replace McKenna.
During a brief speech, McKenna’s touted the accomplishments of his office and highlighted their handling of over 20,000 cases per year, and an appellate success rate of over 90 percent including seven US Supreme Court cases.
He also said that lawmakers had enacted many laws that his office had recommended; including many that protected consumers and went after scam artists and identity thieves.
McKenna thanked both legislators and coworkers in the A.G.’s office and said that he and his office always had a goal:
“To make a difference, to improve the lives of our fellow citizens, to leave this wonderful evergreen state a little better than when we found it.”