State Senator James Hargrove to Retire

News broke yesterday that Senator James Hargrove of the 24th Distict (he’s from Hoquiam, but also serves the North Olympic Peninsula) is retiring after 30 years of service. He has represented a very diverse set constituents , from the radically progressive town of Port Townsend, to the very conservative areas of the coast that usually vote Republican in this day and age.  He has been what most would consider a very conservative Democrat, not without good reason, given that so many of his voters have been raised in or worked for natural resource extraction, whether timber or fishing.

As we know, these worlds have been in free fall over the last forty years, for a wide range of reasons. The running low on the giant virgin timber that mills were built around coincided with opening of unlimited shipping of raw logs to Japan and elsewhere, this profited the big timber companies over the small ones, and led to massive overcutting of the forest, leading to environmental lawsuits to protect the few remaining stands that could house the disappearing virgin timber species like the Spotted Owl and the Marbled Murrelet.

I’ve met with Senator Hargrove a number of times while working on getting many varied environmental bills through our State government over the years. I also live in his district. He has always been respectful, and helped me understand what would work for his constituents and what wouldn’t. He did support numerous environmental bills and other proposals, while not supporting others that he thought were not going to fly on the Peninsula. While I may have disagreed with him, I always was respectful of his approach, which was very different than the other party’s willful neglect and unwillingness to do anything but fight in court. I also understood that Senator Hargrove’s deep Christian faith colored his approach as one would expect it to, and I respected that, urging others that were meeting with him to understand and accept it as they negotiated issues with him.

He is the kind of politician that is rapidly fading, the middle of the road person who is willing to be flexible. Special interest groups are expected to have hard positions, both on the left and right, and that is fine with me. I’m continuing to look for and work with politicians who will work with us to forge a way forward, rather than become a roadblock, those who respect both our environment and our need to keep people employed. James Hargrove is one such politician, and will be missed. All the best to you Mr. Hargrove as you head into the next phase.

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