Locke gives farewell speech

MARTHA MODEEN; The News Tribune
Last updated: January 12th, 2005 12:41 PM

Olympia, WA - Ending a 22-year career in public office, Gov. Gary Locke delivered his last major speech as governor Tuesday, saying the state is in better shape than when he took office eight years ago.
Flanked by his wife and three young children, Locke mouthed the words “thank you” as a packed House chamber gave a standing ovation.

Elected state officials, nine state Supreme Court judges and foreign dignitaries from Japan to Mexico came to hear Locke deliver his eighth gubernatorial address opening a legislative session.

“We have Washington on track for a very bright future,” he told a joint session of the House and the Senate during a 25-minute speech interrupted by applause 18 times.

The official line for Republicans was that they wished him well. But some GOP members were noticeably absent during Locke’s speech. Many were disappointed by their failure minutes earlier to delay acceptance of the election results in the disputed governor’s race.

“This governor has had a long term in Olympia. He has some things to be proud of,” said Rep. Gary Chandler (R-Granger), House minority leader, who stayed to listen. “To serve eight years is a long time for anyone.”

Democrats praised Locke for being a good governor and said they’re eager to begin working with Locke’s successor, Christine Gregoire, who will be sworn in today.

“Overall, it was a good speech. But what I did not hear was that while the state is moving forward, we’re a long ways from having sufficient revenues,” said Sen. Debbie Regala (D-Tacoma).

Locke said that during his two terms, access to health care has improved, test scores have risen for Washington’s schoolchildren and 17,000 more students are attending state colleges and universities than when he took office.

During the last two years, the economy has begun to bounce back and nine national companies have chosen Washington as home over other West Coast states, Locke said.

“We’ve faced some formidable challenges: a major earthquake, an energy crisis, droughts, Sept. 11 and the constant challenge of improving homeland security,” he said. “We survived, we rebounded and we’re charging ahead.”

But Locke also cautioned lawmakers that they still need to help families move off welfare by providing affordable health care and quality job-training programs.

The state also needs to invest in education and worker retraining programs to help “cultivate a healthy, dynamic business climate,” he said.

“As our economy improves and companies like Microsoft, Amgen and Boeing and others hire more people, do we want our children to have the opportunity to work at these companies? Or will they be forced to hire people from out of state?” he asked.

Locke, the nation’s first Chinese American governor, began his political career in 1982 by winning a state House seat representing Seattle’s Central District.

He later served as the elected King County executive before winning the governor’s race in 1996 after Mike Lowry opted not to run for a second term.

The Inauguration by the numbers

Christine Gregoire will be the star of the show at tonight’s inaugural ball on the Capitol campus in Olympia, which runs from 7 to 11:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the “will call” pavilion near the Legislative Building’s south portico.

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the event:

Cost of one ticket: $75

Total cost of ball: About $275,000

Number of tickets expected to be sold: 3,500

Number of yellow roses ordered for corsages and boutonnieres: 360


720 bottles of chardonnay

480 bottles of merlot

240 bottles of cabernet

120 bottles of champagne

12 cases of sparkling apple cider

5,000 souvenir short plastic wine glasses embossed with the state seal


6,000 pieces of shrimp cocktail

Artichoke proscuitto barigoule with saffron aioli

Broiled vegetable terrine

Buffalo hot wings

Cured coho salmon with fennel salad

Hoisin barbecued pork and rock shrimp lumpia with mango coulis

Moroccan tagine lamb cup

Sake-lemon grass gravlax with cucumber leaf, pineapple relish and salmon roe

The Associated Press

Sources: Governor’s Inaugural Ball Committee; Bill Williams, Eurest regional executive chef



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