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Guest Commentary / Senator's farewell

A privilege to represent the 10th district

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By Mary Margaret Haugen
My dear friends and neighbors,
For 30 years, you trusted me to represent you as a senator in the Legislature, and I wouldn't trade those 30 years for anything. It was a lot of hard work, but even more than that, it was an honor and privilege.
Some people approach the Legislature as a stepping-stone to something bigger. Not me. Not for one second. I once had a chat years ago with my 10th District Republican predecessor, Jack Metcalf, who went on to serve in Congress. Jack told me I had the best job there was, and I agreed. That opinion hasn't changed.
Representing our district has been a privilege and a responsibility I have always taken very seriously.
As your elected representative to the Legislature, first in the House and then in the Senate, I've been able to fight for farms, for seniors, for education, for ferries, for each and every concern you brought to me. I took that responsibility very seriously and worked as hard as I could, because I knew you depended on me.
I worked to protect farmland from development, from encroachment by salt water, and to spare farmers from unnecessary regulation or interference. I fought to preserve ferry runs others sought to eliminate, and I worked to find funding to build new ferries to replace our aging ferries even when others said there was no money to be found.
I fought year after year to repeal the nursing home bed tax, shrinking it a little each year until I finally got it repealed completely, because I saw how it exhausted the savings of families who had parents in nursing homes.
I strove to preserve and restore our natural beauties such as Cama Beach State Park, the Keystone spit, and the Admiralty Inlet preserve on Whidbey Island because I wanted our grandchildren and their grandchildren to be able to enjoy the same lush district that we have.
I fought for over 25 years until our region got a four-year campus that provides a local option to students young and old who can't afford room and board at schools across the state.
I worked on behalf of precious local icons ranging from the Ebey's Landing National Historical Preserve, to the Greenbank Farm, to the Whidbey Island Game Farm, to the Utsalady Ladies Aid Hall.
None of these fights were easy. But, like the scores of other projects I've fought for over the years, they were more than worth the trouble because of their value to our district. It's amazing to look back, really, because at the time I would simply finish one legislative battle and immediately move on to the next. It's only been recently, as a variety of people have gone out of their way to thank me for my efforts, that I've taken a look back to truly consider the scope and number of projects that have filled these 30 years.
Above all, I want to thank everyone for all their letters and thoughtful words and actions in recent weeks. A lovely reception hosted by the Skagit County Commissioners, for instance, was absolutely overwhelming. Hearing so many people say so many kind things, I almost felt like I was at my own funeral! In a similar light, I was tremendously touched when my colleagues in the Senate honored me with a resolution recognizing my legislative contributions last month.
In the days to come, I look forward to seeing more of my family and getting to spend more of my time enjoying our beautiful district; it truly is a treasure and I feel fortunate to call it home.
As always, it's been an honor and a privilege to serve you.
God bless and best wishes.

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