By Pat Jenkins
The newest state legislator for the Eatonville and Graham areas is a military combat veteran and small-business owner with some previous experience at elected office.
State Rep. Graham Hunt took the oath of office Jan. 18. He replaces Gary Alexander, who resigned after failing to win election last fall as Thurston County auditor.
Hunt is serving the Second Legislative District, which includes south Pierce County and part of Thurston County. He was appointed jointly by the Pierce County Council and the Thurston County Commissioners from among three candidates nominated by the Republican Party, which had nominating authority because Alexander is a Republican. The other contenders were Matt Hamilton of Graham and Andrew Barkis of Olympia.
Hunt lives in Orting, where he has been a City Council member.
He served in the military for nearly 10 years before moving to Washington in 2005. He runs the Hunt Family Insurance agency, and he and his wife Lynda have three children – one boy and two girls ages 13, 11 and 5.
Hunt indicated a particular focus for him as a legislator will be the interests of small businesses.
“It’s an honor to be chosen for this position, and I look forward to learning about the process as quickly as possible so that I can start making our state even better for our citizens and more competitive for small businesses,” he said.
Hunt will serve on five committees in the Legislature – Appropriations, Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, Healthcare and Wellness, Labor and Workforce Development, and Business and Financial Services.
Hunt will fulfill the one year remaining on Alexander’s unexpired two-year term. He’ll have to run for the office in this fall’s election if he wants to retain his seat in the House.
Alexander was a state representative since 1996 for a district in Thurston County. During his race last fall for county auditor, he made a campaign promise that he would step down from the Legislature if he didn’t win. He lost to Mary Hall, a former Pierce County elections official, by 777 votes, and he resigned Dec. 31.
Redistricting put Alexander in the Second District in 2012, where he won a two-year term despite being relatively little-known among Pierce County voters. He decided last year to also seek the Thurston auditor position. He’d been the county’s appointed deputy auditor for 12 years.
“Filling legislative vacancies is an important responsibility for county leaders,” said Pierce County Council chairman Dan Roach. He predicted Hunt will serve Second District communities and the state well.
Council members met in DuPont with their counterparts from Thurston County to formally appoint Hunt. He officially took office during a swearing-in ceremony at the state capitol.
The 2014 session of the Legislature convened Jan. 13.