In the weeks since the state Legislature called it a session, some familiar faces have said farewell to public life. The exodus continued on March 28 when longtime Eastside leader Joan McBride (D-48) announced that she will not be seeking a third term in the Washington State House of Representatives.
In the announcement, McBride pointed to her work supporting cities, promoting affordable housing and updating the Public Records Act in the Legislature, where she served for four years as assistant majority floor whip and two years as vice chair of the Local Government Committee.
“After 25 years as an elected official in various offices, I want to take time to pursue some of the passions of my youth,” she is quoted in the press release that announced her decision. “I’ll remain politically involved just without the mantle of public office.”
McBride added that she was proud of her two-and-a-half decades in politics.
“Washington State is now the better Washington,” she told the Reporter. “We’re compassionate, thoughtful and we want all of our citizens to be safe…We want to have a just community throughout our state, and I think we’re doing a very good job.”
A former Kirkland mayor, McBride was first elected to represent the 48th District in 2014. The district, which includes Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue and the points cities, was previously held by Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib.
McBride’s life in politics began on the Eastside, shortly after a stint lobbying on behalf of the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. She said that she felt like she wasn’t getting through to her representatives.
“I thought it would be so much better to make the decision and have the vote,” she said. “Instead of having to talk someone into it.”
McBride started local, winning a seat on the Houghton Community Council, where she served as chair. She was then elected to the Kirkland City Council, where she served for 16 years, including two terms as mayor.
Her background in local government followed her to the state House, where she was “considered a champion for our cities and counties,” she said. McBride said she wanted to make sure that “when we pass laws at the state, it’s not an unfunded mandate for our cities.”
McBride also said that the non-partisan nature of local elected office helped her work across party lines in Olympia.
“In my time in the Legislature, most everything I worked on, whether it passed or didn’t pass, was cooperative with the Republicans,” she said.
She said she is also proud of her work advocating for people with disabilities, and her “collegial and cooperative” approach to sensitive subjects like homelessness and gun violence.
McBride said she wanted to represent the diversity of the Eastside, and was “one of the very few gay elected officials in the state Legislature.”
According to her website, McBride recently married her partner of 14 years. They share a large extended family, including one grandchild.
After retiring, McBride said she would “move on to some things that I deeply care about,” including spending more time with her family, writing and mentoring other leaders.
McBride has already “enthusiastically endorsed” a candidate for her seat in the State House, Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen.
Walen “has all the attributes and experience we need in Olympia — including a passion to reduce gun violence and promote prosperous, safe, and affordable communities,” McBride stated in the press release.
“It has been an honor and the privilege of a lifetime to represent the 48th, and I leave it in a very good position,” McBride said. “I look forward to supporting Amy as she campaigns.”