Kathleen Drew, former Issaquah lawmaker, enters secretary of state race

November 14, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 2:30 p.m. Nov. 14, 2011

Kathleen Drew, a onetime Issaquah state senator and a former aide to Gov. Chris Gregoire, entered the race Monday to succeed retiring Secretary of State Sam Reed.

Drew, 51, served as a representative for Issaquah and other Eastside communities in the mid-1990s. In the Legislature, she crafted a tough ethics law for public employees — a national model designed to tamp down on conflicts of interest in state government — and led the effort to protect the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery from budget cuts.

“My strength is really that I’m an experienced public service manager on extremely complex issues at the state level,” she said in a pre-announcement interview.

Kathleen Drew

Drew later served in Gregoire’s administration, initially as a policy adviser focused on the environment and then on general government issues. In the environmental role, she crafted the legislation to establish the Puget Sound Partnership, a regional effort to clean up Puget Sound.

Drew left Gregoire’s office last month to serve as a policy adviser at the state Department of Enterprise Services — a super-agency responsible for handling payroll and personnel, as well as managing contracts, real estate and supplies.

The secretary of state serves as the top elections official in Washington. The office also handles registrations for corporations and charities.

“What the secretary of state is most noted for, of course, is to oversee the elections process,” Drew said. “As I see it, that’s one where you need somebody who is going to be impartial, fair and also actively working to increase voter registration and voter turnout.”

The role offers the secretary of state a chance to boost voter participation in Washington’s all-mail elections.

“I would actively be a voice to remind people about getting out to vote and about how important it is to increase the conversation about civic education throughout the school year, and use my effort and energy to look at where we are underrepresented in voters — whether that’s a particular population or a particular part of the state,” Drew said.

Reed assumed the office 11 years ago and steered the state through the tumultuous 2004 contest between Gregoire and Dino Rossi — the closest gubernatorial race in U.S. history.

“I absolutely respect Secretary Reed,” Drew said. “He has handled some very challenging situations and close votes with a very fair and impartial and approach. I respect that, and would want to continue that.”

The field to succeed Reed also includes Democrat Jim Kastama, a state senator from Puyallup, Zack Hudgins, a state representative from Tukwila, and Republican Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman.

The primary in the race, and for other state and local offices, is Aug. 7, 2012.

Drew and husband Steve Drew, Thurston County assessor, reside in Olympia. Son Philip serves in AmeriCorps and is participating in the national service program in Hartford, Conn.

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