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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

Executive on the passing of Rep. Helen Sommers: The state has lost a leader, and generations of state leaders have lost a mentor


King County Executive Dow Constantine today issued the following tribute honoring former state Rep. Helen Sommers.


The state has lost a leader, and generations of state leaders have lost a mentor.

I had the honor of serving with Helen Sommers in the House of Representatives. As a freshman member 20 years ago I sat right in front of her on the floor of the House. She would gladly provide direct, candid advice, as long as my question wasn't too foolish. But her real guidance came as she murmured to herself under her breath, just loud enough to be sure I heard, about why some bill was good or why someone then giving a floor speech was not entirely in command of the facts. Helen always knew her facts -- especially on the budget. She studied harder than anyone, worked harder than anyone, and helped shape the course of the Legislature and the state for many productive years.

Her advocacy for the University of Washington -- and higher education in general -- was without equal, and in that we immediately found common cause.

Helen was one of just a handful of women in the Legislature when she was first elected in 1972, and her success against the odds inspired generations of women to get involved in politics. Through her courage, leadership and tenacity, she made our corner of the country a better, fairer place to live.


Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography