Secretary of State Sam Reed announced Tuesday he will retire when his third term ends in January 2013.
Reed, a moderate Republican and the state’s senior GOP statewide elected official, was re-elected in 2008 despite the heavy Democratic vote in Washington State. He said he’s confident he could have won a new term, but is ready to move into an active retirement and turn the office over to a new generation.
Reed, the 14th secretary of state and the senior Republican statewide elected official, served as Assistant Secretary of State under A. Ludlow Kramer and Bruce Chapman, from 1969 to 1975. He was appointed by Gov. Dan Evans to head the Urban Affairs Council (1967-1969) and the Constitutional Reform Commission (1975-1977) and worked on the drive to lower the state voting age from 21. He was active in electing moderate Republicans to statewide and local office.
He was elected six times as Thurston County Auditor, serving from 1978 to 2000, when he was elected to the first of three four-year terms as Secretary of State. His last re-election was in 2008, winning with over 58 percent of the vote, more than Barack Obama’s percentage in the Democratic-leaning state.
A cancer survivor, Reed said he was recently given a clean bill of health and is energetic and plans a “vigorous and robust” finale to his term. He is 70.
“This is a bittersweet decision for me and my family,” said Reed. “I have such love and respect for this office and for the opportunities to serve the people of Washington every single day. I came to Olympia as a young man to answer a call for a new breed of leaders, and was honored to work for Gov. Dan Evans and to be appointed assistant secretary of state by Secretary Lud Kramer at age 28. Later, I thoroughly enjoyed being Thurston County Auditor for 23 years and now have had the distinct pleasure of being Secretary of State for three terms, including presiding over the nation’s secretaries of state. In all, it has been quite a ride — 45 years in public life, including 35 in elective office. It is true, there is ‘a time and a season’ and for Margie and me, it is time to move on at the end of the term. I am leaving elective office, but not public service. I am quite certain that I will continue my love of community and state and country and serve as an enthusiastic volunteer in non-profits and charities, lecturing, writing and spending time on college campuses. I will continue to advocate for political moderation, both in my own party and wherever we Washingtonians can find opportunities to solve our challenges through bipartisanship and nonpartisanship. I will continue working for civility, human rights and conservation and other causes I strongly believe in. I will continue to champion civic engagement by all of us, working to build stronger communities that are inclusive of all. Margie and I will enjoy travel, the arts, sports and spending time with our family, including our two grandsons.”
Secretary Reed served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State in 2005 and has chaired NASS committees, including the Heritage panel and a presidential primary reform committee. He has been an election observer in Uganda and the Russian Far East, and an advisor to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. He is a trustee of the Washington State Historical Society and the Heritage Center Trust Board, TVW Board of Directors, YMCA Youth and Government Board, and the State Capitol Committee.
Reed’s family has been in the region since territorial days. His grandfather, Sam Sumner, was Chelan County Prosecuting Attorney, a member of the state House and Republican State Chairman. His parents were heavily active in civic affairs and politics. Reed grew up in Wenatchee. His family later moved to Spokane, where he graduated from Lewis and Clark High School. He attended Washington State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies and a Master’s Degree in Political Science. He attends Cougar athletic events and has the WSU fight song as the ring tone for his cell phone.
Reed has received many honors, including Governing Magazine’s national Public Official of the Year Award, the Warren G. Magnuson Award of the Municipal League of King County, honors from the Washington State Coalition of the Homeless, lifetime honors from the Thurston County Women Republicans, and Gonzaga University’s School of Law Medal for exceptional service to the law and the legal system, following his handling of the contested 2004 governor’s race.
Reed and his wife, Margie, have lived in Olympia for many years. They have two adult children, David and Kristen, and two grandsons.