On Thursday morning Rep. Eric Pettigrew announced his intention to retire at the end of this session following 18 years of "service" to South Seattle's 37th Legislative District. For the last ten years, Democrats in the House have elected him as their caucus chair, the third-highest position in leadership.
In a press release, Pettigrew says he's leaving Olympia at long last "to pursue other opportunities and challenges including bringing a new hockey team to Seattle."
Though I'm tempted to lobby him to name that hockey team literally anything besides Seattle Kraken, his dismal voting record in the House suggests he wouldn't be the guy to get the job done.
During his time in office, Pettigrew voted against raising the minimum wage, against modest evictions protections, and against a bill restricting law enforcement's ability to use drone surveillance. He also tried to loosen regulations for predatory payday lenders, shield the state legislature from disclosing public records, and promote charter schools.
“The word ‘progressive’ has a special meaning to me,” Pettigrew said of this record in a press release, “and if a bill wasn’t about helping a person, a community or a worthy institution progress in our society, I’ve been reluctant to put my influence behind it."
"Special" isn't exactly the word I'd use, but, yes, Pettigrew's "progressive" voting record is so special you'd be forgiven for confusing him with a Republican.
In the release Pettigrew said he's not, unfortunately, immediately resigning his post because he has some "projects" he wants to see through this session. Looking at the bills he's sponsored this year, those projects appear to involve undermining the public education system by giving charter schools more money, setting up a state grant for a new mentorship program that serves underrepresented communities, allowing more pot shop licenses for social equity purposes but also allowing out-of-state investment in pot shops, which would slow progress toward social equity in the industry.
A mixed bag with no truly progressive proposals? Classic Pettigrew.
Anyhow, the good news is the safe blue seat will be open at the end of this year.
Former interim Seattle City Councilmember and current interim executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Kirstin Harris-Talley, who brought back the head tax in 2017, wasted no time throwing her hat in the ring. This morning she announced an "important announcement," and then announced she'd be running for Pettigrew's seat after he announced his plan to retire.