June 26, 2007
One of the first things I tried to figure out when I was selected for this position three and a half years ago (has it been that long?) was which state elected officials have degrees from the University of Washington? Most all of the other flagship universities around the country keep close track of this information and even sponsor one or two events during the year to celebrate the success of their graduates who are serving as public officials.
The first couple of iterations of this list relied solely on the biographical information provided by legislators and other statewide office holders. While this proved adequate enough as an approximate benchmark, it relied too much information provided by an elected official or their staff and not enough on the ultimate arbiter of official accuracy — the UW registrar’s office.
So, thanks to Karin Yukish of the State Relations staff and Michael Dieterle from UW Development and Alumni Relations, we have now compiled what I believe is a truly accurate list of all state elected officials who hold at least one degree from the UW. You can now find this list in the Spotlight section of the State Relations website.
Couple of things worth mentioning. Three of the nine statewide elected officials are UW alums including the Governor and Attorney General and five of the nine state Supreme Court Justices have UW degrees including Chief Justice Gerry Alexander. You may have read in the paper’s a couple of weeks ago that Justice Bobbe Bridge has announced she is stepping down at the end of this year and Governor Christine Gregoire will name her replacement who will stand for election in November 2008.
In the state legislature, 20 percent of the State Senate and 14 percent of the House of Representatives are UW alumni. The group of 24 legislators includes the Speaker of the House and seven committee chairman. Membership is also overwhelmingly Democratic with Senator Cheryl Pflug and Rep. Gary Alexander the lone Republicans in the legislative group.
We’ll do our best to keep this list up to date because everything is subject to change in the world of politics. In addition to Justice Bridge’s planned departure in January 2008, Senator Jean Berkey could drop off the list by this November since she is running for a seat on the Snohomish County Council. We’ll try and use our considerable powers of persuasion to ensure that their potential successors are UW alums.