When people recognize you only by your first name, you’ve made a name for yourself. That’s exactly what 10th District Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen did in the 30 years in the Washington State Legislature, eventually becoming chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Through the years, Mary Margaret did a remarkable job writing budgets to address the state’s most pressing needs, but always setting aside a little something to help her home district. Everybody learned to go to Mary Margaret for help, from acquisition of the Greenbank Farm to construction of a new commercial barn there; to expansion of the Clinton ferry terminal ahead of other terminals that needed it just as badly or more; to safety improvements to Highway 20 from Whidbey to Burlington. She was always there when Island Transit needed a little financial help.
Another remarkable thing about Mary Margaret was her accessibility. She didn’t always like what she read in the local papers, but she always called reporters back promptly, even from the Senate floor, to help them meet their deadlines and get their information correct. She was, in short, a model representative of the people.
She wasn’t afraid to buck her Democratic party, sending some of the ferry construction work to Nichols Brothers in Freeland and other small, non-union boat yards. She finally lost union support when she wanted to crack down on actions that were affecting the commuting public, but she did what she thought was right.
Why did she lose the election to State. Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor? Part of it is that Bailey is a likable person who has been around Olympia for quite a while, but not getting much done as a member of the minority party. Haugen also claims it hurt her when she saw the light on same sex marriage and cast the deciding vote to make it state law.
At a vigorous 71, she had four more good years left in her and was already writing the next state transportation budget, with some money earmarked for Island Transit’s intersection problem with Highway 525. Don’t be surprised if she squeezes it in before leaving office in January.
Mary Margaret Haugen was the 10th District’s most effective legislator in decades, perhaps ever. Thanks for all your hard work and always being open to the people you represented. You simply cannot be replaced.