House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, will retire this year after 18 years in office. COURTESY PHOTO, Washington House Democrats

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, will retire this year after 18 years in office. COURTESY PHOTO, Washington House Democrats

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan to retire from Legislature

Covington Democrat has represented District 47 for 18 years

After serving in the state House in Olympia for 18 years, Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, has announced he is not running for reelection and will leave the Legislature at the end of his current two-year term this year.

Sullivan has served as House Majority Leader since 2010. He represents House District 47, which includes parts of Kent, Auburn and Covington. Voters first elected Sullivan to the Legislature in 2004.

Sullivan’s legislative priorities have centered on building a strong economy for Washington by investing in education and workforce training, creating good paying jobs with benefits, and increasing access to affordable health care, according to a Washington House Democrats March 16 news release. He has served on the House Democrats’ budget negotiation team since 2009 and helped craft budgets during some of the state’s most challenging periods, such as the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We made it through some difficult times,” Sullivan said in the news release. “But we always manage to come through even stronger as a state. It’s about putting people first.”

Sullivan has championed numerous policies during his time in the Legislature to help students and working families. This year, he successfully pushed to create a state student loan program to provide higher education loans to Washington undergraduate and graduate students at a rate of just 1% – far below the rate of most federal or private loans.

“Students shouldn’t have to be saddled with ridiculously high interest student loans just so they can get a degree that opens doors for good-paying jobs in our state,” Sullivan said earlier this session. “With this program, they have a more affordable option.”

Sullivan hopes the state student loan program will continue to expand after he retires and reach even more students, including more graduate students. He says the state is in great need of more qualified people to fill jobs requiring graduate degrees, including doctors, dentists, behavioral health providers, engineers and more.

Prior to serving in the Legislature, Sullivan served as the first mayor of Covington. He served as a legislative assistant in the House as well as the Senate and also worked for the King County Council.

Sullivan and his wife, Amy, have three grown daughters who all graduated from Kent public schools, and two grandchildren.

Sullivan had announced in March 2020 that he would retire that year from the Legislature. But Sullivan decided to run for reelection two months later after Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, asked Sullivan to run again because of the budget problems caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the November 2020 election, Sullivan easily defeated Republican Ted Cooke. He also defeated Cooke in the 2018 election.

Inslee statement

Gov. Jay Inslee released the following statement about Sullivan.

“Pat has served as a steady, dedicated leader for the people of this state,” Inslee said. “He has helped shepherd many significant policies and budgets through the Legislature and is a true champion for strengthening education opportunities and supporting working families.

“Pat’s calm, pragmatic approach and willingness to consider diverse viewpoints has helped bring legislators together on many difficult issues, particularly during the Great Recession and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. Most importantly, Pat remains the most passionate legislative hockey fan in Washington state history. I appreciate his partnership over these past nine years and wish him and his family all the best.”

Open seat

The decision by Sullivan to not seek reelection opens up a seat he has held for nearly two decades.

Republican Carmen Goers, of Auburn, announced in January that she is running for the position. Goers is a commercial lending officer for Heritage Bank in Kent. She is co-chair of the Kent Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee and a member of the city of Kent’s Public Facilities District that helps oversee operations of the accesso ShoWare Center.

Nobody else has announced they are running for the position. The filing deadline is in May.

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