Native Leaders Help Shape New State Administration

Richard Walker
December 24, 2012

The chairmen of the Jamestown S’Klallam and Swinomish governments are helping the next administration in Washington state get off to a running start in January. And two Native legislators will help set policy and write laws in eight critical areas of public life in the legislature.

Gov.-elect Jay Inslee, a Democrat and former U.S. congressman from Kitsap County, appointed Jamestown S’Klallam Chairman Ron Allen to his transition committee. Inslee takes office January 14.

Allen, who has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Washington, has been chairman of Jamestown S’Klallam since 1975. He served as president of the National Congress of American Indians for four years, co-chaired the BIA Self-Governance Advisory Committee for almost 13 years, and served on the U.S./Canada Pacific Salmon Commission for 13 years.

Allen and other transition committee members will advise Inslee as he appoints a cabinet, builds a staff and turns his campaign agenda into executive and legislative action. The 34-member transition committee is divided into issue-specific work groups coordinated by transition staff members.

"My administration will be focused on growing Washington's economy, improving education, reducing health care costs and making state government more efficient and more effective," Inslee said in an announcement of his transition team.

"The team we've assembled represents both sides of the Cascades, our key industries, and people with experience both inside and outside government.”

Attorney General-elect Bob Ferguson, a Democrat and former King County Council member, appointed Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby to his transition committee. Ferguson got his start in law in the 1990s, living in Guadalupe, Arizona, and providing legal assistance to citizens of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

Cladoosby has served on the Swinomish Tribal Senate for 28 years, and as chairman for 16, and is active on the Skagit Council of Governments. He served as president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians in 2008-11, and served on the National Congress of American Indians board of directors and on EPA’s National Tribal Operations Committee. He introduced President Barack Obama at the White House Tribal Nations Conference on December 5, calling Obama – an adopted member of the Crow Nation – our “first American Indian president.”

Cladoosby and the other 28 transition committee members are reviewing the structure of the Attorney General’s Office, its budget, and goals for the upcoming legislative session. Key priorities for the committee’s review: strategies for addressing gang violence, strengthening the consumer protection division, developing an Environmental Crimes Unit, and establishing a Veterans Division to address the specific legal issues faced by veterans and military families.

“My transition committee will consider how we can best to protect Washington consumers, improve public safety, defend our environment, and stand up for our veterans,” Ferguson said in an announcement of his appointments.

Inslee and Ferguson were elected November 6. Inslee defeated Republican Rob McKenna, the state’s attorney general, 51percent – 48 percent. Ferguson defeated Republican Reagan Dunn, a fellow King County Council member, 53 percent – 46 percent.

The legislature’s two Native members have been appointed to key committees. The appointments were made December 10 by the majority Democratic Caucus.

Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, will serve as chairman of the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee; vice chairman of the Environment Committee; and on the Education Committee.

McCoy, a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes, was elected November 6 to his sixth term in the state House of Representatives. He’s chairman of the executive committee of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators; there are 79 Native legislators in 18 states. He is the former general manager of the Tulalip Tribes’ Quil Ceda Village.

Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Anacortes, will serve as chairman of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee, and on the Environment and Transportation committees.

Morris was elected November 6 to his ninth term in the state House. He is a citizen of the Tsimshian First Nation but has relatives at the Samish Indian Nation; one of his cousins, David Blackinton, is a Samish Nation council member.

He is chairman of the National Conference of State Legislatures Environment Committee, past chairman of the Council of State Government-West, and past president of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region. He served as House speaker pro tem in 2009-11.

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