First day of the first session for West Seattle’s new State House rep

Nelson-Sharon.jpegOur area’s newest state legislator has begun her first legislative session this afternoon in Olympia. 34th District State Rep. Sharon Nelson was chosen last November to succeed Joe McDermott, who moved up to State Senate after Erik Poulsen‘s resignation. Rep. Nelson talked with WSB this morning about what she’ll be working on and how she’s hoping to hear from you:

You may not realize that the job of state legislator in Washington isn’t a full-time job. When chosen for the State House, Rep. Nelson was working as chief of staff for King County Councilmember Dow Constantine; she says she’s on a leave of absence from that job right now and expects eventually to return to it, part time.

She’s been moving into her Olympia office gradually over the past few months so she can hit the ground running as the session begins today. Caucusing started at 10 am; the gavel fell at noon; then committee meetings began a little earlier this afternoon. Rep. Nelson is on three committees, and two of them were scheduled to meet simultaneously, so when we spoke by phone this morning, she was working out logistics of how to participate in both meetings (an overlap she says won’t be a regular thing).

Nelson lives on Maury Island, which along with an area including Vashon, West Seattle, and Burien, comprises the 34th District. The committees she’s on this session are listed here: Agriculture and Natural Resources, Local Government, and Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Audit Review. “(That last one) relates to the budget,” she explained, “a perfect fit since I have a finance background from years ago. I’m pleased to be on all those committees.”

You can check Rep. Nelson’s website to see which bills she is already sponsoring, and which she is co-sponsoring. She told us the list will grow – also as we spoke, she was reviewing what she described as a 37-page list of bills that had been “pre-filed.”

Though she is not on a committee dealing directly with transportation, given the challenges faced here in the district, she says she wiill be “watching it closely … (For example), we know the viaduct affects West Seattle and Burien and the rest of my district; the governor has announced it should come down, but we have to have a solution in place — what are we going to do to keep people moving?”

That’s not the only aging bridge about which Rep. Nelson is concerned; she has taken a special interest in the South Park bridge, already sponsoring a bill (HB 2529; read it here) to have it declared “a highway of statewide significance.” And she acknowledges “the ferries are a mess” — especially given the vessel crunch going on right now.

On a personal note, she says, “It’s a very nice feeling to be here (in Olympia). I’ve been here before as a citizen lobbyist, and last year, lobbying for Dow — on the inside (now), I think I can get a lot done.”

Her legislative assistant is Joe Fitzgibbon, from Burien, and if you call or e-mail her, she says he will make sure the message gets to her attention. She also says it’s important to e-mail her directly, instead of using the general address that’s on the Legislature website — that address does not convey contact information to the individual legislators, she explains, but if you e-mail her directly, she’ll be able to get back to you quicker.

Her contact info is here, and she sincerely wants you to use it when necessary: “Let us know if you have concerns. What I want to do is be as responsive as I can to the citizens — and it really helps if I get feedback on the bills.”

You can read more about Rep. Nelson in her online bio here.

1 Reply to "First day of the first session for West Seattle's new State House rep"

  • Chris Arkills January 15, 2008 (2:03 pm)

    Sharon rocks! We are definitely missing her here at the county, but we couldn’t have a better representative for the 34th in Olympia.

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