Barring an unexpected special session, the Senate chamber in the state Legislative Building has seen the last of Reuven Carlyle, a model public servant declining to seek reelection. He will be missed.
Through 14 years in the Legislature, Carlyle showed admirable consistency in advocating for complex issues dear to the interests of his northwest Seattle district, including environmental causes and regulation in the high-tech era.
Carlyle served among Democratic majorities for most of his time in the House and Senate, and successfully cultivated coalitions to get ambitious legislation into state law. He led the charge to give Washington its first carbon-pricing mechanism, the 2021 “Climate Commitment Act” that capped carbon emissions and set a tax on pollutants to fund environment-positive projects. Two years earlier, he successfully championed clean-energy bills to pull the state’s utility companies away from dependence on fossil fuels, after years of Gov. Jay Inslee pushing climate bills with scarce success.
Carlyle deserves special appreciation as well for his dogged sincerity in dealing with bills that didn’t pass. He was one of just seven state senators who opposed a heinous attempt to exempt the Legislature from state open-records law in 2018, which was eventually vetoed after public outcry. Carlyle also stumped hard in recent years to pass a long-needed law giving Washington residents clear privacy rights over data collected by companies and government, but his colleagues went wobbly under pressure from trial lawyers rather than serve their constituents. That proposed legislation has been a model for actual laws enacted in other states. And he tried in vain to get colleagues to slow the revolving door from lawmaker to lobbyist exploited by many erstwhile officials.
Carlyle’s departure deals a blow to the cause of good-government transparency to a legislative body well-served by the senator. His successor in the 36th district’s Senate seat representing Magnolia, Ballard and Queen Anne, and the lawmakers he leaves behind, should emulate his good-faith engagement and public-service spirit.