By Whitney Cork
For the Enterprise
Steve Hobbs is a man of action.
As a soldier, Hobbs’ ability to get things done earned him the nickname “The Hobbinator.”
As a candidate, his determination led to an upset election victory in November.
That characteristic drive could be seen Monday, Jan. 8, as Hobbs spent his first day as the new state senator from the 44th Legislative District, which serves Mill Creek, Mays Pond and Silver Firs.
“I’m excited to finally get started on things,” Hobbs said in his office Monday morning.
Hobbs, a Lake Stevens Democrat, won a four-year term when he unseated incumbent Republican Sen. Dave Schmidt of Mill Creek.
On Monday, he joined 146 other state lawmakers for the start of the 105-day legislative session.
By 8 a.m., Hobbs had consumed his usual two cups of coffee and was drinking green tea as he prepared at his desk in room 213 of the John A. Cherberg building.
Hobbs’ office is adorned with keepsakes. His Army fatigues are tacked on a wall and his service medals displayed on shelves.
On his desk are a Bible and a nameplate reading “The Hobbinator.”
“The nickname came from my work as resource manager in the 1st Armor Brigade,” he said. “I was kind of the go-to person there; my higher-ups would joke that it was time to ‘Get the Hobbinator on this.’ “
Hobbs sought to live up to the reputation Monday, immediately soliciting fellow senators to sign on to one of his first pieces of legislation: an anti-discrimination bill for veterans.
The bill carries particular importance for Hobbs, who left military service in 2005 after serving in Kosovo and Iraq.
“I have experienced this type of discrimination firsthand in job interviews,” he said. “I would like to help my brothers and sisters in the military and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
Minutes before noon, Hobbs walked to the Senate chambers in the Capitol for the opening day ceremonies.
Shortly after 12:30 p.m., Hobbs was sworn in with fellow senators as his mother, wife and three sons looked on from the Senate gallery.
“I have to admit it was very awe-inspiring getting up on the rostrum and taking that oath,” he said. “I understand that there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that chair.”
As Hobbs was sworn into the Senate, across the rotunda, House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, addressed the House of Representatives.
“Welcome back to the House,” he said. He called for a bipartisan focus on “kitchen table” issues of education, health care and jobs.
He spoke with emotion on the need for helping the uninsured.
He told a story about a woman he met who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has no insurance. Yet, he said, her 11 foster children are all covered by a state plan.
The result is that she, her husband and her friends hold fundraisers to defray the medical costs, he said.
“In this wealthiest nation on Earth, you shouldn’t have to hold a fundraiser to pay for your illness,” he said. “This is morally wrong and this must change.”
Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, earned re-election as the speaker pro tem.
In a short speech, he urged colleagues to maintain goodwill and mutual respect for one another.
Lovick, who will wield the gavel during many of the floor debates, evoked laughter when he suggested that when members do speak on an issue they “be brief about it, be right about it and then be gone.”
Monday found many legislators assigned new seats to accommodate the increase in Democratic officeholders. Democrats hold 62 seats in the House, up from 55 a year ago.
In the Senate, Democrats added six seats.
Hobbs’ desk is a couple strides away from the Senate’s only Snohomish County Republican, Sen. Val Stevens of Arlington.
He uttered an emotional “wow” upon seeing his name engraved on his Senate desk, then seemed to settle quickly into his new role. He chatted with fellow legislators and smiled frequently at his family.
After the final gavel sounded, the newly minted senator was eager to secure more signatures on his proposed bills.
“It feels like I’ve got to start working,” he said enthusiastically as he exited the Senate chambers. “I’m ready to start doing the people’s business.”
Whitney Cork is a reporter with The Herald in Everett.