Ballard to end 20-year career in House

Olympia, WA - 5/14/02 - After serving two decades in the Washington state House of Representatives, House Republican Leader Clyde Ballard announced today he will retire at the
end of this year.

It s been an honor to work for the citizens of north central Washington and to serve the citizens of the entire state, said Ballard, R-East Wenatchee, first elected in 1982.  This was a very difficult decision.  Ruth and I have spent much time in prayer and discussion.  But after 20 years of service, it s time to focus our time and energy on our family again.

Leader of the House Republican Caucus since 1986, the longest tenure any legislator has served as head of any of the Legislature s four caucuses in the state s history, Ballard was speaker of the House from 1995 to 2002.

As speaker, he led the drive to reform the state s welfare system, curb the growth of state spending and reduce taxes, policies that helped support the strongest period of economic growth in the state s history.  Ballard transformed the administration of the House, dramatically reducing the number of staff and improving its efficiency.

He also increased the public s access to, and involvement in, the legislative process.  Ballard was an early proponent of using the Internet to connect Washington s citizens to the Legislature s day-to-day business.  He championed changes in committee procedures to ensure that private citizens testified first at committee meetings, ahead of lobbyists and special-interest groups.  And Ballard is credited with opening legislative meetings and negotiation sessions that had previously been closed to the public.

I m proud of what we've accomplished and I think we've made a difference by empowering citizens, expanding opportunities for working families and letting all taxpayers keep more of what they earn, Ballard noted.

What he will miss most, however, are the close relationships he and his wife, Ruth, have developed during their time in the Legislature, Ballard stressed.

My best memories of my legislative career will be the personal relationships and respect I've developed for the people I've worked with, he explained.  Most rewarding have been the times when I've been able to help individual people back home when they've come to me.  That s what s kept me going for 20 years and what made this decision especially difficult.

My real passion is for serving people.  I made a personal commitment when I started this job to do everything I could to represent people staying true to principle, and in the process, I hope we've made their lives a little better.

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