Two Snohomish County legislators close out careers

OLYMPIA — Snohomish County lawmakers Mary Helen Roberts and Mike Hope have cast their final votes as state representatives.

That’s because the 2014 session ended Thursday, no special session is looming and both of them are leaving office when their terms expire at the end of the year.

“I’ve really enjoyed this legislative session,” said Hope, a Republican from Mill Creek. “I’m definitely happy I won’t be having any more special sessions.”

Roberts, a Lynnwood-area Democrat, departed on a high note. Her bill providing additional services to youth in foster care was the final legislation voted on by the state House.

“To me it’s a gift,” she said in what turned out to be a farewell floor speech. “I get to have the last word on the last day of my last session. It has been an incredible journey.”

Roberts will step down after a decade representing the 21st Legislative district in south Snohomish County. It encompasses Edmonds and unincorporated areas abutting Lynnwood and south Everett, including Paine Field.

A former trustee for Edmonds Community College, she worked tirelessly on behalf of children, especially those in foster care and whose parents were behind bars. She also sought to expand treatment options for people with mental health and substance abuse problems rather then sent them jail.

Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, lauded Roberts as a “champion for those who’ve been forgotten” and “a voice for the voiceless” during a House tribute to the retiring lawmaker last week.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers repeatedly applauded her passion and conviction for assisting children and families. They also praised her Karaoke skills and joked about her penchant for taking notes on every bill discussed in Democratic caucus meetings.

Rep. Tami Green, D-Lakewood, fought back tears as she spoke.

“She’s not a flashy legislator. She didn’t want to be honored today,” Green said. “Her work here will be remembered mostly by the children she’s helped.”

Hope is completing his third term representing the 44th Legislative District which includes Mill Creek, Lake Stevens and Snohomish.

A former Seattle police officer, he now works as a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley.

A political moderate, he was the lone Republican supporter of a bill to require background checks on most private sales of handguns in 2013. A year earlier, following the murder of four Lakewood police officers, he sponsored the constitutional amendment passed by voters giving judges discretion to limit bail for the most dangerous repeat criminals.

But when the House paid him tribute last week, many mentioned the muscular Hope’s acting aspirations and beefcake photos posted on his IMDB site.

“I’ve tried some of those poses,” joked Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, who also represents the 44th District.

Dunshee, who defeated Hope in 2004 and 2006, praised him for becoming a partner on many pieces of legislation.

“You’ve been good for constituents. You’ve been good to work with,” he said.

Hope did not introduce any bills in his final session, saying he was content to take it all in.

“I’m going to miss this,” he said as he looked out on the House chamber. “It’s an amazing place but I’m ready for a new chapter in life.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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