I have a friend I would like you to meet. He was born Oct. 15, 1959, the youngest of seven children. He grew up on Capitol Hill in Seattle, where his father was a public school teacher. His father's family had emigrated from Italy to Black Diamond, Wa. to work in the coal mines. His mother's background was Klinkit Indian and Irish.
After graduating from Woodway High School in Edmonds, my friend worked his way through Seattle University. He had various jobs, such as night janitor and construction, but his degree was business management when he graduated in 1982. In 1984 he bought his first apartment building and he's been in commercial real estate ever since.
Although he thought he was a confirmed bachelor, he met a girl at the office who, he says, "chased me until I let her catch me!" He and Terri were married Aug. 8, 1987. They have four children: Juliauna who is 13; Jake 10; Joseph 7; and Jillian who is 3.
Oh, and the family has a dog, G.W., named for our president since the children wouldn't have gotten the dog without President Bush's intervention! Over and over the children had asked for a dog. But with four children in a very busy household, the parents decided the dog might not receive the proper care. They said no dog. Once after another plea on the part of the children, my friend said somewhat tongue-in-cheek, "Not unless the President of the U.S. says you can have a dog!" The next summer when the family was visiting the White House, the children prepared a note to leave on President Bush's desk. This was accomplished. To their parent's surprise, a letter came from the President saying he thought every family should have a dog to care for and love! I heard that the President asked about the dog when he visited Washington state this summer.
In his first election experience, my friend voted for President Ronald Reagan. Later he volunteered in King County and because of the outstanding work he did there, he was named King County Republican of the Year. He was asked to run for the Senate in the 5th district and went to serve in the Senate in 1996. In just a short time he became the chair of the Ways and Means Committee.
Besides other successful and highly acclaimed accomplishments, he wrote the budget that rescued our state from a deficit without raising taxes. He resigned from the Senate last fall to put his full efforts into serving us in another position.
My friend is Dino Rossi and he is running for governor. He wants to bring a fresh start and a refreshing service attitude to public service.
There are so many areas that need new leadership. For the last 20 years, many of the same people have been shifted around in state government agencies and offices. Businesses and jobs have been leaving for other areas. Health care and education are in crisis, but there is no clear leadership for needed change.
We can do better. We can have a state where families can live and work well, where youth can be well educated, and the ill and elderly can be well cared for. We need to change the culture and direction of state agencies who need to understand they are servants, not masters.
I'm sure you will like my friend if you take the time to know him. That's why I have introduced him to you today.
Jerri Honeyford, wife of Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside, provides her "Across our State" column as her take on the legislative happenings currently underway in Olympia.