Mary Selecky to retire as state health agency chief

OLYMPIA — The woman who has served as Washington state’s secretary of health for nearly 15 years has told Gov. Jay Inslee she plans to retire.

Mary Selecky announced plans Tuesday to return to her home in Colville. She told the governor she would stay until a successor is chosen.

She has served three governors since first being appointed “acting secretary” by Gov. Gary Locke in October 1998.

In a statement, Selecky said she’s proud of the progress the state has made in lowering smoking rates and getting more children vaccinated. Under her leadership, the health department says Washington’s adult smoking rate has dropped 30 percent, and youth smoking rates are down by half. The agency said childhood vaccination rates are the highest in years.

Inslee thanked her for her service.

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