By NATALIE ST. JOHN
OLYMPIA — Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, on Tuesday announced that he has left the Washington State Senate.
According to a press release from the Senate Democratic Caucus, Hatfield is taking a job as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s sector lead for rural economic development.
Hatfield has represented the 19th Legislative District in the Senate since 2006. He served in the House of Representatives from 1994 through 2004. According to the press release, he most recently served as the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture & Rural Economic Development and Natural Resources & Parks committees.
“It’s truly been a privilege to serve the people of the 19th district and it’s with a heavy heart that I leave this office,” Hatfield said in the statement. “But I will continue to serve the state in a new role and I’m excited to continue my work in rural economic development for Washington.”
Hatfield served as a legislative aide to Sen. Arlie DeJarnatt and Sen. Sid Snyder from 1989 to 1994. He also served as the Legislative and Community Relations Liaison to Lieutenant Gov. Brad Owen from 2004 to 2006 before joining the Senate. He has served on the Community Economic Revitalization Board since 2007.
Hatfield came under serious political fire in spring, 2013, after it was revealed that his then 15-year-old son had molested another child in his family home. Critics questioned Hatfield’s handling of the matter, and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed that Hatfield and his wife had failed to report the matter to authorities in a timely matter.
Hatfield did not face legal action for that incident, but few would deny that the scandal has continued to cast a shadow over his political career.
Rumors of Hatfield’s departure have circulated for weeks, but if members of the state or local Democratic parties knew of the coming change, they declined to discuss it publicly.
Prior to the official press announcement on Sept. 1, some sources were saying that Hatfield had unofficially announced the decision as early as last week, and may have made it official with an announcement to the senate on Aug. 31 or Sept. 1.
Just before the press release went out, a staff member at Naselle High School confirmed that State Rep. Brian Blake’s legislative assistant, J.D. Rossetti, had called the school earlier in the day to ask if it would be possible to hold a meeting there in mid-September.
That meeting would likely be to determine who would fill vacancies created by Hatfield’s departure.
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but many political insiders have speculated that State Rep. Dean Takko will move into Hatfield’s spot. Several locals are reportedly vying to fill Takko’s vacancy, including Rossetti, businesswoman Tiffany Turner, county commissioner Lisa Ayers, and local historian Jim Sayce.
Ultimately, county commissioners from the areas within the 19th legislative district will get to decide who gets the job, and it is likely that there are other potential candidates for Takko’s seat.
This is a breaking news story. Further details will be added as they emerge.