OLYMPIA — Longtime Washington lawmaker and Democratic state Sen. John McCoy on Thursday announced he was stepping down after nearly two decades in the Legislature.
McCoy, a 76-year-old from Tulalip who represents Snohomish County’s 38th legislative district, is the chamber’s only Native American legislator, according to the Senate Majority Leader’s Office. In a statement, McCoy said he wanted to spend more time with his family.
McCoy’s resignation — which comes about halfway through his current four-year term — is effective on Friday.
“It has been the greatest honor to serve the people of Washington alongside you,” McCoy wrote Thursday in a letter to his fellow senators. “It has been a gift to advocate for marginalized and disenfranchised Washingtonians, to lift up the voices of our sovereign tribal communities, to expand access to – and quality of – education and health care, and to do so with a team of dedicated public servants.”
First elected to the House in 2002, McCoy spent five terms there before being appointed to the Senate in 2013. Voters elected him to that position in 2014 and 2018. And since 2016, McCoy has held a leadership role, serving as the Senate Democratic caucus chair.
In a statement, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andy Billig of Spokane said he was saddened by the news, calling McCoy a mentor and praising his work over the years.
“He has led efforts to improve access to dental care in Native communities by sponsoring a landmark dental therapy bill,” Billig said in prepared remarks. “He worked to tear down barriers to voting, increase broadband access to rural areas and is a relentless champion for clean water.”
To replace McCoy, the Snohomish County Council will appoint someone from a list of three names chosen by local Democratic Party officials. A special election will be held this year for candidates wishing to serve the last two years of McCoy’s term.