Rep. Strow to resign seat in state House for new job

Rep. Chris Strow announced plans Thursday to step down from his state House of Representatives seat before the start of the 2008 Legislative Session.

He will take a job in Seattle as an economic policy analyst.

Strow has just finished the first year of his second term in the House. In a statement to the press, Strow said he wanted to find more “family friendly” employment.

“Representing the 10th Legislative District has been the greatest honor of my life. However, I came to the conclusion that being a Legislator took too much away from being the best husband and father I can be,” Strow said in his statement.

“Serving the people of the 10th District has been the greatest single honor of my life, but now is the time for me to focus on serving my wife, Mary, and my daughter Abigail,” Strow said.

The two-term Republican lawmaker from Freeland most recently served as the House Assistant Minority Floor Leader. Earlier this year, he said he wanted to fill the vacated seat on the Island County board of commissioners after Commissioner Mike Shelton stepped down so he could work closer to home. Strow later withdrew his candidacy for the appointment, however.

Strow’s resignation was unexpected. He filed as a candidate to run again in 2008 for his Position 1, District 10 seat on Oct. 13.

Strow will become a principal economic policy analyst at the Puget Sound Regional Council in Seattle.

“We are thrilled to have Chris joining our staff. He brings a wealth of expertise in economic development, policy advancement and strategic planning,” Bob

Drewel, executive director of the Puget Sound Regional Council, said Friday.

The Puget Sound Regional Council develops policies on regional growth issues and coordinates the distribution of roughly $160 million in federal transportation funds every year. It is composed of more than 80 county, city, port, tribal, transit and state agencies.

The council also helps direct the “Prosperity Partnership,” a coalition of more than 250 groups from Snohomish, King, Kitsap and Pierce counties that are working on a common economic strategy.

“By adding Chris to our great team, the Prosperity Partnership will be able to implement key strategies to grow jobs and secure long term prosperity in the Puget Sound region,” Drewel said.

Strow did not return a call Thursday for comment.

Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, praised the service of her fellow District 10 House lawmaker.

“It’s been a pleasure having Chris in the Legislature; he will be missed,” Bailey said.

“I know this was a hard decision for Chris, and serving at the Legislature, particularly the 10th District ... does take a great deal of sacrifice for families.

I certainly respect his decision.”

“Chris and I always had a great working relationship,” Bailey added. “It’s been very good to work with someone who has the kind of background that Chris has had; he’s very knowledgeable and has really done a good job. I will miss him.”

Bailey said party officials have begun to talk about the process to replace Strow.

The 10th District encompasses all of Whidbey Island and parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties. Republican party officials will meet to recommend a replacement for Strow.

Republican precinct committee officers in the 10th District will meet to come up with the names of three candidates to replace Strow. The Island County board of commissioners, the Skagit County board of commissioners, and the Snohomish County Council will each send three members to a joint meeting to select Strow’s replacement.

Strow was elected to his second term in 2006. He initially ran unopposed, but faced a late write-in challenge from Margarethe Cammermeyer.

The son of Island County District Court Judge Peter Strow, Chris Strow grew up on Whidbey and went to school at Oak Harbor Junior High School and Oak Harbor High School.

He joined the staff of U.S. Rep. Jack Metcalf in 1994, and served as a transition advisor to the congressman before taking over as Metcalf’s deputy chief of staff. For five years, Strow was Metcalf’s senior aide in Washington, D.C.

In his resignation announcement this week, Strow thanked Metcalf for his guidance during his early years in politics.

“I would also be remiss if I did not mention my great friend and mentor Jack Metcalf who passed away this year. He saw something in me a long time ago and always encouraged my successes. Jack was a strong conservative voice with real compassion for working men and women in our communities. I tried my best to emulate those qualities,” Strow said.

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