- Proven Independence -
For sixteen years I was honored to represent my hometown of Puyallup in the Washington State House and Senate (In the photo above I am wearing a yellow shirt for Daffodil Day, a Puyallup tradition). My time in the State Legislature was shaped by the view that we must work together to create bipartisan solutions catering to the needs of our citizens rather than pander to special interest groups. I worked diligently to create a competitive economy, a vibrant workforce, and reform government for the 21st Century.
As chairman of the Government Operations and Elections Committee following the Gregoire/Rossi election in 2004, I passed major reforms including: requiring routine audits of county elections, purging ineligible voters from the voters rolls, and moving the primary forward to allow overseas military personnel more time to return their ballots. My work on elections reform has earned me a Legislator of the Year Award from the Washington State Association of County Auditors.
I have been a strong and vocal advocate for sustainable budget reform, government accountability and performance management. To make government effective in the 21st Century we must restore faith in citizens and change the public perception that we don't know how to manage our resources responsibly.
Those who have worked with me know that I'm not your usual kind of politician. I’ve walked the walk on bipartisanship, and I have the record and tire marks to prove it. Though my independence has made me a target of interest groups, I’ve earned the respect of my constituents by being honest and direct about the reasons that I vote the way I do.
As chair of the Senate Economic Development, Trade and Innovation Committee, I advocate for a long-term, statewide economic strategy that will help business to compete globally and create better jobs for Washington. I have worked closely with the global health, high tech, and manufacturing sectors to grow the industries of the future. My committee led the way on innovative solutions to aid our economic recovery, like our successful STARS program that brings the top minds in the world to our research universities so that we can harness the power of great ideas to create jobs here. I created the Investment Partnership Zone (IPZ) program, which won the award for most innovative economic development development program in the nation, from the Council of State Governments.
On the Senate Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee, I have fought for workforce retraining funding, public private partnerships, and a dedicated funding source for higher education. I was proud to sponsor the creation of our state's first online university in partnership with Western Governor's University. This accredited and flexible program will provide a new resource for those pursuing continuing education and is vital to maintaining a new economy workforce.
We have much to be proud of in our State- from our great people, to our natural resources, to our entrepreneurial spirit. Together we will meet the challenges of the future.
On a more personal note, I am happily married to my beautiful wife Barbara, a former advanced placement US history teacher at Puyallup High School, Legal Consultant to the United Nations Commissioner for Refuges and current Counsel to Corr Cronin LLP. I am also fortunate to be the proud father of five children: Isaac, Anna Laura (Reed College), Michael (Tacoma School of the Arts), Sarah and Rachel (Kalles Jr. High). I enjoy cycling as well as skiing, and I serve as a volunteer member of Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol. My favorite tradition is an annual hike around Mount Rainier on the Wonderland Trail with my family.