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Sheldon won’t run again for Senate seat

OLYMPIA — After a dozen years of fighting for the 23rd District on the floor of the Senate, Sen. Betti Sheldon has opted not to run for a fourth term.

“For the last several months I’ve thought about it and I have decided to retire from the Senate,” said the Democrat from Bremerton on Monday morning. “I had a feeling in 1992 to run for the Senate and I had those same feelings that it was my time to move on now.”

Sheldon, whose original campaign slogan was “Putting Kitsap First” when she ran against Ellen Craswell, always lived up to that creed.

“Betti has been a strong voice and strong supporter of Kitsap County and she’ll be missed,” County Commissioner Chris Endresen said. “Selfishly, I wish we could get four more years out of her. I appreciate that Betti didn’t make decisions based on getting elected — she made those decisions for everybody in Washington and Kitsap County.”

Sheldon kept the 2-Plus-2 program at Olympic College and helped secure funds for the rebuilding of the OC library and the recently opened Poulsbo campus, something Endresen said is Sheldon’s biggest legacy to the residents of the North end of the county. She twice secured funds for passenger-only ferry service, only to see the passenger ferries docked by voter-passed initiatives which cut funding. Sheldon spent three years working on getting the Kitsap Readiness Center built in West Bremerton and was instrumental in getting funds for the SR 3/303 interchange project which is scheduled to restart in 2005.

“She’s been outstandingly popular and an outstanding senator,” said Kitsap Democrats chairwoman Sharon Peterson. “She’s done a marvelous job. You can’t find a better person for the job than Betti has done.”

Peterson said she heard rumors several months ago and talked to Sheldon about running again in December. At the time Sheldon was uncommitted.

In the Senate, Sheldon has served in a number of leadership roles including Democrat floor leader, majority floor leader, majority caucus vice chair, majority whip and majority assistant floorleader. She currently is a member of the economic development, higher education and ways and means committees.

Sheldon said her biggest accomplishment was helping write the Regulatory Reform Bill of 1995 which combined the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) and Enviroment Protection Act (SEPA) to cut down on the amount of bureaucracy required under previous state laws.

“That took some major steps we’re still taking today,” Sheldon said.

She said she’s not sure what she’ll do once her term ends in December.

“I’ll do something,” said Sheldon who has five children and six grandchildren. “I’ll still be a senator until December when my term is over. I just thought it was important to announce my decision before the session is over (March 11). I’ve been proud to represent District 23. Hopefully I’ll do something else for Kitsap County.”

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