Today, Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement regarding the passing of former State Representative Helen Sommers:
“I’m deeply saddened by the passing of former State Representative Helen Sommers, whom I was privileged to call a friend. For nearly four decades, she represented Seattle’s 36th District with great distinction and purpose as one of the great legislative leaders of her time. She was a mentor to me as a new budget chair. She brought seriousness and a deep understanding of policy to her work on behalf of our community.
“When first elected in the early ‘70s, she was one of only 12 women in the House, but by the time she retired in 2009, our state had one of the highest percentages of female legislators in the country. That wasn’t by accident. As a ‘born feminist’ who took leadership roles in the League of Women Voters and King County Chapter of the National Organization of Women, Helen helped inspire and ensure that progress. She was tough but principled, working to reform the state’s pension system and taking on entrenched interests. She was the first to admit to being outspoken, blunt and impatient – because that’s who she was and what was needed to get things done for her constituents. She fought sexism and an old boys club, persevering to become an influential head of the Appropriations Committee and a champion for Seattle Public Schools, community colleges and the University of Washington.
“Helen inspired a generation of leaders, myself included. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”