State Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, said she plans to retire from the Legislature after this year's session, which starts Monday.
OLYMPIA — State Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, said Thursday she won’t seek re-election this year after 24 years in the Legislature.
Prentice first joined the House of Representatives in 1988 and won election to the Senate four years later.
She was the first Latina to serve in the Legislature.
Prentice, who turns 81 next month, said she is ready to retire and spend time with her family.
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“It’s been on my mind for a while now,” she said, adding, “redistricting made it very clear.”
Under the redistricting plan released last month, Prentice’s home would no longer be in the 11th District, which includes South Seattle, Burien, Tukwila, Sea-Tac and the southern part of Renton. Instead, she would be in fellow Democratic state Sen. Adam Kline’s 37th District.
Prentice said she does not plan to run against Kline.
“I adore Adam Kline,” she said. “He votes his district; he votes his conscience.”
The Legislature still must approve the redistricting plan proposed by the state redistricting commission, but lawmakers can make only small tweaks to district borders. Legislative and congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years to account for population changes numerated by the U.S. Census.
Prentice also said she wants to spend time with her son, who has autism. She said he lives with her while her daughter lives next door.
“I’m lucky to have my family with me,” she said.
A former chairwoman of the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee, Prentice is known as a strong supporter of unions, Indian tribes and access to health care.
In 2008, she led a failed plan in the Legislature to publicly finance a basketball arena in Renton for the Seattle Sonics. The team later moved to Oklahoma City.
Prentice’s last legislative session begins Monday. She said she’ll focus on three key issues: gambling, transportation and early-childhood development.
She opposes a Republican proposal to allow slot machines into nontribal card rooms as a way for the state to raise more revenue. “It’s a stupid way of making money,” she said.
A former nurse, she said she’ll work to improve early-childhood development in the state, including nutrition programs and gang-prevention efforts for young children.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said Prentice has been the voice for people in need, women and for the Hispanic-American community.
“She’s been a great leader on so many issues — a great mentor,” he said.
Stephanie Kim: 360-236-8266