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Nov. 28, 2021

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Washington state Sen. David Frockt to step down at the end of his term in 2022

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OLYMPIA — Washington state Sen. David Frockt, a longtime Seattle Democrat, announced he will not run for reelection in 2022.

First elected to the state House in 2010 and then winning his Senate seat in 2012, Frockt, an attorney, has taken the lead for Democrats over the years on a range of pressing issues.

In 2016, he sponsored successful legislation to create Washington’s 529 plan, a type of college savings program that had been offered by other states.

He also authored an early version of the extreme risk protection order that Washington voters later passed at the ballot box as a way to keep firearms away from those who are risk to themselves or others.

More recently, Frockt has helped draft the state’s two-year capital-construction budgets, which have played a role in lawmakers’ efforts to reshape Washington’s mental health and address the housing-affordability crisis.

“In your heart, you know when it’s time, that’s how I feel about it,” Frockt, 52, said in an interview. “So I feel 12 years is a good run, I’ve been really thrilled, it’s been an amazing chance to get to do this.”

Frockt will serve through the end of his term, he said, which means he will remain in office for the legislative session set to begin in January and through the end of next year.

His departure comes as a group of Democrats and Republicans has begun drawing new legislative maps as part of Washington’s once-a-decade redistricting process.

But Frockt, who said he has no set plans for what he intends to do next, said that didn’t play into his decision, and that he didn’t expect the 46th Legislative District — which includes North Seattle, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore — would change that much.

State Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle, quickly announced his intentions to run for Frockt’s seat. He has represented the 46th Legislative District in the Statehouse since 2017.

While the election won’t happen until 2022, Valdez said in an interview he wants to get started early. “I’ve got a few months until the fundraising freeze hits,” he said. State law prohibits legislators from soliciting or accepting political donations beginning 30 days before the start of the legislative session. The freeze lasts until the end of the session.

Frockt is only one of a few recently announced departures at the Legislature.

On Monday, Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, announced she was leaving her seat to take a job as community development director for the city of Longview.

Appointed to the Senate in 2012 after serving two terms in the House, Rivers served as chair of Senate Health Care Committee before Democrats took the majority. In 2017 was one of eight lawmakers who secluded themselves to hammer out a plan resolving the state Supreme Court’s school-funding order known as the McCleary decision.

Her final day as a legislator will come sometime before the Legislature convenes in January, according to a statement from her office. Rivers is starting her new job this week.

“The more I was drawn to this opportunity, the more it seemed clear there would be a choice to make,” Rivers said in prepared remarks. “Being a senator is officially a part-time position, but it becomes full-time every January when a new session begins. Two full-time jobs would be a lot to handle, even if only for a matter of months each year.”

Last month, Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, announced she was ending her 20-plus-year run in the Legislature to take a position with the state Department of Corrections.

Darneille — who is chair of the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee — has taken a job working in a new position, as assistant secretary for the agency’s Women’s Prison Division.

Earlier this year, she sponsored successful legislation to resentence as many as 114 people who are serving life without parole under the state’s three-strikes law.

Darneille’s resignation will become effective sometime this fall, according to a statement.

Her four-year Senate term that began in January will be filled by an appointee, to be selected by the Pierce County Council, who will serve through next year.

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