Governor Jay Inslee signs landmark bills, honors John McCoy

By Wade Sheldon, Tulalip News

A momentous day unfolded for the people of Tulalip and all Indigenous communities in Washington State as Governor Jay Inslee visited the Tulalip Resort Casino on March 19 to sign several new house bills. These bills not only enhance the recognition and education of the Native community but also allocate additional resources and aid to assist tribal communities grappling with the drug epidemic.

The occasion wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for one of Tulalip’s greatest champions of the people, the late John McCoy (lulilas). John loved his people and his country, and because of this, he served 20 years in the Air Force, became a computer programmer, and worked in U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s situation room in the white house. In 2002, he ran for Washington State Senate and won. There, he served ten years in the Washington House of Representatives after being appointed to the State Senate, representing the 38th Legislative District.  

One highlighted bill was No. 1879, Since Time Immemorial Curriculum, a testament to John’s dedication. This meticulously developed curriculum aims to teach about the Indigenous tribes of Washington State accurately. It marks the first instance of the Legislature incorporating Lushootseed language into State law. The bill explicitly acknowledges John McCoy’s tireless and visionary efforts in supporting student and educator learning about the history, culture, and government of federally recognized Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

In 2005, John sponsored Substitute House Bill No. 1495 to compile comprehensive information on tribal history, culture, and government statewide. This initiative sought to integrate these vital aspects into the social studies curriculum, particularly in courses covering the history of Washington and the United States. Due to McCoy’s diligent efforts, the Legislature will pay tribute to him by naming the curriculum the John McCoy (lulilas) Since Time Immemorial Curriculum.

“In Washington D.C, he broke down barriers, built bridges, and educated tribals and non-tribals alike about the challenges faced in Indian Country,” said Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin. “He had national recognition for being an innovative and visionary leader and bringing the Legislature forward not only for the tribe but also for the state of Washington and all of Indian Country. Our children are benefiting from what he has fought to bring to this State.”

“John sponsored the foundational Legislation that led to the teaching of the curriculum on tribal history, government, and culture in our schools,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “This is also the first time the Legislature will incorporate the Lushootseed language into law in the history of the State of Washington.”

“My dad fought for everyone, not just the people in Washington State but for all Indian Country,” John McCoy’s daughter Sheila Hillarie said. “He worked that bill to help his grandchildren. There were mostly plains Indians, and that was talked about in school when I was growing up. There was nothing about the coastal Natives. So, I feel that this Bill John McCoy (lulilas) Since Time Immemorial Curriculum will help educate the people on the culture and knowledge of tribes.” 

The legacy of John McCoy is a beacon of advocacy and progress for the Tulalip community and all Indigenous peoples across Washington State. His tireless dedication to education, culture, and tribal sovereignty has left an indelible mark on Legislation and learning. As we move forward, let us continue to honor his memory by embracing the rich heritage and wisdom of our native communities, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.


  • House Bill No. 1879 – Relating to naming the curriculum used to inform students about tribal history, culture, and government after John McCoy (Lulilas). Primary Sponsor: Rep. Lekanoff
  • Third Substitute House Bill No. 1228 – Relating to building a multilingual, multiliterate Washington through dual and tribal language education. Primary Sponsor: Rep. Ortiz-Self
  • Engrossed Substitute House Bill No. 2019 – Relating to establishing a Native American apprentice assistance program. Primary Sponsor: Rep Steams
  • Substitute House Bill No. 2075 – Relating to licensing of Indian health care providers as establishments Primary Sponsor: Rep. Lekanoff
  • Substitute House Bill No. 2335 – Relating to state-tribal education compacts. Primary Sponsor: Rep. Santos
  • Substitute Senate Bill No. 6146 – Relating to tribal warrants. Primary Sponsor: Rep. Dhingra
  • Substitute Senate Bill No. 6186 – Relating to Disclosure of recipient information to the Washington state patrol for purposes of locating missing and murdered indigenous women and other missing and murdered indigenous persons. Primary Sponsor: Rep. Kauffman
  • Second Substitute House Bill No. 1877 – Relating to improving the Washington state behavioral health system for better coordination and recognition with the Indian behavioral health system. Primary Sponsor: Rep. Lekanoff
  • Substitute Senate Bill No. 6099 – Relating to creating tribal opioid prevention and treatment account. Primary Sponsor: Sen Dhingra

The most influential business executives of the past 35 years: No. 34 knows a thing or two about economic development



By Steven Goldsmith Managing Editor – Print- Puget Sound Business Journal


This is one in a series where the Puget Sound Business Journal counts down the top 35 most influential business leaders of the last 35. The countdown is part of the PSBJ’s 35th anniversary celebration.

As a leader of one of the nation’s most economically active tribes, Snohomish County’s Tulalips, John McCoy is a national as well as regional business figure.

McCoy, 71, recently retired as general manager of the tribes’ bustling Quil Ceda Village shopping, casino and hotel complex, but still serves in the state Legislature (10 years in the House, two in the Senate).

He was recognized as the Business Journal’s 2005 Executive of the Year for the dynamic business environment he helped foster.

It all started 20 years ago, when McCoy — a no-nonsense negotiator who sports a bolo tie and a crew-cut — returned to his tribe after serving 20 years in the Air Force and several years as a computer technician at Sperry Univac and the White House.

McCoy helped move the reservation from a communications system that he described as “one step above smoke signals” to a state-of-the-art. That program evolved into Tulalip Data Services, which installed networking infrastructure on the reservation and provides technical support to tribal departments.

The shopping complex near Marysville became a triumph of planning, vision and commitment on the part of the Tulalip Tribes — one of many still working to parlay gambling revenue into a more diverse and sustainable prosperity.

In addition to the popular hotel-casino, Quil Ceda includes a business park, the 125-tenant Seattle Premium Outlets, and stores such as Cabela’s and Home Depot.

For the Tulalips, much of this traces to McCoy.

“As you course your way through history, you see common people doing uncommon things,” Bob Drewel, head of the Puget Sound Regional Council and a former Snohomish County Executive, told the PSBJ in 2005. “John believes himself to be a common person, and he does some very uncommon things.”


See Also

After burglary, lawmaker pushes for power to ping

By Eric Stevick, The Herald


TULALIP — A burglary at his home earlier this month has strengthened a state lawmaker’s resolve to let police more quickly track cellphone signals to catch crooks and look for people whose lives might be in danger.

Sen. John McCoy got a firsthand demonstration of how the power of pinging cellphone towers can combat crime.

On July 13, someone broke into his Tulalip home. Early that morning, the burglar stole keys, McCoy’s iPhone, and a rental car parked in the garage.

The couple was home at the time, but didn’t hear the intruder.

McCoy called Tulalip police. When an officer arrived, McCoy used an iPad to electronically track the whereabouts of the missing phone. He relayed to a Tulalip police officer the phone’s movements as it traveled from Snohomish to Everett. The Tulalip officer, in turn, contacted police from other agencies.

State law prevented the officers from pinging the phone on their own and without a warrant, McCoy said.

“I kept them updated because they couldn’t do it” without jeopardizing the investigation, McCoy said.

The suspect, 35, was stopped and arrested in north Everett within three hours of the break-in. Based on information relayed from cellphone towers, it appeared the burglar took an illegal U-turn on U.S. 2, drove to Snohomish and Everett and stopped at 23rd Street and Broadway for a spell.

Ultimately, an Everett patrol officer pulled the car over in the 3800 block of Rucker Avenue. The suspect has previous felony convictions for theft, identity theft, forgery and possessing stolen property. His lengthy misdemeanor history includes three drug offenses.

“It was, ‘Hey, we caught the bad guy. Good. And technology was used to do it,’” McCoy said.

Three months earlier, McCoy’s wife had a cellphone stolen, snatched right from her hands. Police were able to catch up with the suspect that same day after the family used pinging technology to track the missing phone.

McCoy hopes to use his recent experiences to gather more support for legislation that would require wireless companies to provide call location information to police in cases of emergencies involving risk of death or physical harm.

That was the gist of House Bill 1897 during the last session. It didn’t become law.

It is another wrinkle in the ever-evolving debate on how to investigate crime and protect civil liberties in the digital age.

McCoy followed the story of a Kansas family whose daughter was killed in 2007 after she was kidnapped in a department store parking lot. Kelsey Smith, 18, had been in possession of a cellphone that could have revealed her location. It took three days before the telecommunications company provided that information to police.

Laws inspired by the Kelsey Smith case have been passed in more than a dozen states.

Privacy advocates have mounted some opposition.

In Washington state, the American Civil Liberties Union remained neutral on McCoy’s legislation.

“We understand there are valid reasons in an emergency,” said Doug Klunder, an ACLU attorney specializing in privacy cases. “Just as in any emergency situation, cops don’t need to get warrants. Because of that we did not take a position on the bill.”

Washington’s state constitution has strong privacy protections.

A staff analysis of the bill during the last session found: “Although some federal court decisions have held that the government does not need a warrant under the Fourth Amendment to obtain cell phone location data, the analysis under the state Constitution may be different.”

As it stands, prosecutors across Washington advise police to obtain search warrants before seeking cell phone location data from service carriers, the analysis found.

Klunder said it is important to define what is and isn’t an emergency so police don’t overstep their authority.

“In non-emergency situations we do believe a warrant is required and almost certainly a warrant is required by our state constitution,” Klunder said. “…If it’s just the police on a hunch that’s problematic.”

Walgreens opens in downtown Marysville

From left, Marysville Walgreens Pharmacy Manager Michelle Akigami, Will Ibershof, Tulalip Boys & Girls Club Unit Director Chuck Thacker, state Sen. John McCoy, Marysville Walgreens Store Manager Alan Powell, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, City Council member Donna Wright and Marysville Historical Society President Ken Cage take part in the Marysville Walgreens ribbon-cutting.— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Marysville Walgreens Pharmacy Manager Michelle Akigami, Will Ibershof, Tulalip Boys & Girls Club Unit Director Chuck Thacker, state Sen. John McCoy, Marysville Walgreens Store Manager Alan Powell, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, City Council member Donna Wright and Marysville Historical Society President Ken Cage take part in the Marysville Walgreens ribbon-cutting.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

By Kirk Boxleitner, Marysville Globe
MARYSVILLE — Walgreens opened its Marysville branch at 404 State Ave. with fanfare and charitable contributions to the community July 18.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring touted the store’s opening as contributing to the city’s plans for downtown revitalization.

“They’ve already improved this street corner,” Nehring said. “I’m really excited by what the future will bring.”

“The Mayor has already pleaded with me to add a yogurt shop, so I have my marching orders,” Walgreens District Manager Bruce Philip laughed. “Our managers have put together a fabulous group of store employees, who are talented and committed and enjoy taking care of their customers.”

Philip deemed his donations of $250 each, to the Marysville Historical Society and the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club, as evidence of Walgreens long-term commitment to its new community.

“We intend to maintain and even grow these contributions over time,” Philip said. “Our staff lives in this community, so we care what happens here.”

State Sen. John McCoy and Chuck Thacker, unit director of the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club, accepted Walgreens’ oversized check to their club, which McCoy had helped institute 18 years ago.

“It was only the seventh Boys & Girls Club on a Native American reservation,” Thacker said.

“Our kids are our future leaders, so we need to take care of them,” McCoy said.


Three Tribes Win Coveted Washington State Environmental Education Awards

Northwest Indian Fisheries CommissionHabitat restoration efforts such as removal of the Elwha Dam, shown here in process on October 8, 2011, have helped bring back salmon spawning grounds.

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
Habitat restoration efforts such as removal of the Elwha Dam, shown here in process on October 8, 2011, have helped bring back salmon spawning grounds.

Indian Country Today


Three tribes are among the recipients of the Green Apple Awards given for environmental education initiatives by the not-for-profit group E3 Washington, a professional group that provides education on environmental development and stability.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, President Fawn Sharp of the Quinault Indian Nation and State Senator John McCoy of the Tulalip Tribes will receive awards, E3 announced on June 11. In addition, Billy Frank, Jr., Nisqually tribal elder and longtime chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, will be honored at a gala and awards ceremony to take place on June 26.

E3 is an outgrowth of the Environmental Education Association of Washington (EEAW), the state’s professional association for environmental and sustainability educators and stakeholders. The initiative was established in 2005, when the Governor’s Council on Environmental Education asked the association to take the lead in planning environmental education, according to the EEAW website. “E3” stands for education, environment, and economy. The EEAW is in turn affiliated with the North American Association for Environmental Education.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe was chosen to receive the President’s Award for both honoring elder wisdom and teaching youth self-respect, said retired teacher Marie Marrs, who nominated the tribe.

RELATED: Klallam Dictionary Helps Effort to Save Endangered Native Language

“The annual paddle journeys, alcohol and drug free, are strong signs of cultural revival,” Marrs said, according to the E3 statement. “The Klallam language is taught at local high schools, as a foreign language. Tribal leaders are visible, and honored, at many community events. Native youth are enrolled in natural resource programs at the area Skill Center, as well as Peninsula College, acquiring specials skills and internships with local economic and environmental power bases such as Battelle, Olympic National Park, NOAA, Merrill Ring, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and the Feiro Marine Science Center, as well as their own natural resource/fisheries programs. Skill Center classes are co-taught with a tribal culture specialist as part of the team. Peninsula College has a Longhouse, a House of Learning, for special gatherings and ceremonies, the first in the nation to be built on a community college campus.”

Noting that the very aim of the E3 Washington Lead Green goal is to use every location as a teaching tool, E3 Washington board president Tom Hulst—who selected the Llower Elwha Klallam for the award—said that numerous sites managed by the tribe reach this ideal.

“The E3 Washington Lead Green goal is that every place, be it a building or other site becomes a ‘learning laboratory’ for the shift to sustainability,” Hulst said. “In the case of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe multiple sites under its management meets this goal!”

Sharp will accept the Green Apple Award, which recognizes awareness of indigenous knowledge, language and values, as well as encourages a multicultural approach to environmental and sustainability education, all while exemplifying E3’s Lead Green goal, according to the release.  Sharp, who is also president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and area vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, was nominated by Olympia-based businessman Steve Robinson.

“President Sharp is a very dynamic leader whose incredible energy level is matched only by her skill as a leader and her enthusiastic approach toward serving her people as well both Indian and non-Indian people, particularly in such fields as sustainability, environmental education and health and human rights,” Robinson said in his nomination. “She has long been active in environmental education at all levels, providing leadership in the classroom, the outdoors and the intergovernmental arena. Just one example of many major successes resulting from her leadership was last summer’s Paddle to Quinault—a highly successful canoe journey that brought traditional canoes from near and far to the Quinault homeland. It was a major cultural event enjoyed by thousands, and was a huge historic achievement in helping to build bridges of understanding between tribal and non-tribal communities.”

RELATED: 5 More Native American Visionaries in Washington State

For his part state Senator John McCoy, Democrat, will receive the 2014 Diversity in Action-Individual E3 Washington Green Apple Award, which “recognizes an individual, organization, tribe or program that demonstrates cultural awareness and encourages a multicultural approach to environmental and sustainability education programs while exemplifying the Lead Green goal,” the E3 statement said.

“Senator McCoy has been a tireless leader in many capacities which have served environmental education, multiculturalism and diversity well,” said Robinson, who nominated McCoy as well as Sharp. “His presence on ‘the hill’ in Olympia has provided an immeasurable amount of benefit to both tribal and non-tribal people and governments. He has sponsored phenomenal, far-reaching legislation, ranging from bills to integrate Indian culture and history into the classroom to a bill to establish Indian Heritage Day. Senator McCoy is one of the hardest working legislators in Olympia and he is committed to the protection and restoration of a healthy, vibrant environment for all.”

Frank, who passed away on May 5, was involved in E3 and will be honored at the awards ceremony, which will take place The awards will be presented at E3’s Summer Evening Awards Event 2014, A Summer Celebration of Environmental and Sustainability Education, on June 26.

RELATED: Billy Frank Jr., 1931-2014: ‘A Giant’ Will Be Missed

“Billy Frank, who was E3’s honorary co-chair, was a friend to, and tireless advocate for, all people and species,” said Ruskey. “His spirit lives in us and continues to guide us, as he always will.”



Smith Island restoration project a huge win for water quality

Senator McCoy champions conservation project

Source: The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition

People and salmon alike will benefit from a new project to protect Smith Island outside of Everett.

The Recreation and Conservation Office recently announced that the restoration of the Smith Island estuary would receive a grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. This estuary is part of the Snohomish River system, which provides the second largest volume of freshwater entering Puget Sound from a single source.

“This project will provide immense benefits, restoring salmon habitat and protecting our water quality for the next generation,” said Senator John McCoy (D-Tulalip) . “The WWRP is a critical investment in our outdoors that is essential to preserving our quality of life.”

This single project represents nearly 5% of the entire Puget Sound Ecosystem Recovery estuary restoration target for 2020.

The local match combined with more than $15 million in federal and state grants from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, and RCO brings the total funding amount to $16,001,958.

In addition to protecting water quality, the restoration of the Smith Island estuary will also provide new recreation access. Visitors will be able to witness wildlife in a rich tidal marsh habitat minutes from Everett’s urban core.

“Two thirds of WWRP projects protect or restore Puget Sound. This level of success would not be possible without dedicated legislators like Senator McCoy,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. “Smith Island is a prime example of how we can increase access to the outdoors while preserving the purity of our natural treasures.”



Retired educator hit it out of the park


By Julie Muhlstein, The Herald

In 1945, a pro baseball relief pitcher who also played first base earned $29 a month — if that player was a woman.

“I made money to go to college,” Dorothy Roth said. “I was the youngest one on the team.”

At 86, Roth now lives at Grandview Village, a Marysville retirement community. On Wednesday, she shared long-ago memories of her one season with the National Girls Baseball League. She also has a fun new memory.

On a whirlwind trip to Olympia Tuesday, Roth met Gov. Jay Inslee, and even sat in the governor’s chair. During a surprise presentation, she was awarded the Washington Health Care Association’s first-ever Silver Spotlight Award. The agency is an advocacy group for the state’s assisted-living facilities.

She was Dorothy Wright, fresh out of high school, when in 1945 she joined a team called the Bloomer Girls. Emery Parichy, co-founder of the National Girls Baseball League, bought the Boston Bloomer Girls in the 1930s and built Parichy Stadium in the Chicago suburb of Forest Park, Ill. That’s where Roth played.

“We wore big satin bloomers, and satin shirts,” she said Wednesday. “It was hot, standing out in that field.”

Presenting the award, Inslee noted Roth’s “outstanding contributions as an athlete and as an educator for 30 years in public schools.”

“You look to me like you’ve still got game,” Inslee told Roth, a retired schoolteacher. After Roth autographed a bat Inslee had once used in a congressional baseball game, the governor quipped that “the value of this bat just went up 100 times.”

Inslee proclaimed Jan. 7, 2014, to be “Dorothy Roth Day.”

“The award was a surprise. It was awesome,” Roth said at Grandview Village, where on Wednesday state Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, stopped by to congratulate her.

“It’s great that the state is recognizing our elders,” McCoy said. “I enjoyed the movie ‘A League of Their Own.’ When Dorothy came into baseball, those girls were ahead of their time. They began paving the way for Title IX.

It was Title IX, part of the Education Amendment of 1972, that opened doors for girls to have equal opportunities in school sports programs. “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 movie about women’s baseball teams during World War II, depicts the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a league similar to Roth’s.

Herald readers were introduced to Roth in July. Andrea Brown’s article in the Vitality section featured the former ballplayer. It told how Grandview Village residents, wearing “Team Dorothy” shirts, were going to see Roth throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game.

Did she get it over the plate? “Close to it,” Roth said Wednesday.

In her long life, baseball was just one season. Roth did spend her baseball earnings on college. She attended Cornell College, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Northern Illinois University. She earned a master’s degree and met her future husband, Al Roth. He would go on to be a city manager in Crystal Lake, Ill., and North Bend, Ore. Roth, who was widowed about three years ago, has a daughter and a son.

Her daughter, Holly Leach, is superintendent of Northshore Christian Academy in south Everett. Leach joked Wednesday that her parents were the first reality TV stars. They were married Sept. 1, 1952, on a TV show in New York called “Bride and Groom.” They applied out of financial need, and were amazed to be chosen, Roth said. Prizes included a free wedding and a honeymoon in the Pocono Mountains.

Brenda Orffer, the Washington Health Care Association’s senior director of member services, said the organization will give Silver Spotlight awards monthly through 2014. The agency represents 450 assisted-living facilities around Washington.

The new award program is aimed at honoring seniors who have made contributions in many walks of life. It’s also meant to highlight positive aspects of long-term care. “How many other elders are out there like Dorothy?” McCoy asked.

Is Roth still a baseball fan?

“I used to root for the Chicago Cubs,” she said. “I’m into the Seahawks now.”

GOP has slim, but possible, chance to win House seat

December 5, 2013

By Jerry Cornfield, Herald Writer

It’s been 33 years since voters chose a Republican governor in Washington.

But it’s been even longer since a member of the Grand Old Party got elected from the 38th Legislative District to the House of Representatives.

You have to go back half a century to find the last one — Jack Metcalf, a Whidbey Island Republican who won a House seat when the district’s boundaries encompassed parts of Snohomish and Island counties.

With any luck, Republicans could end their losing streak next year in a district now centered in Everett and includes Tulalip and a sliver of Marysville.

A vacancy in the state House is creating the potential opportunity. Democrat John McCoy of Tulalip moved from the House to the Senate last month and seven people want his old seat.

June Robinson, Jennifer Smolen, Deborah Parker, Ed Triezenberg, Kelly Wright, David Simpson and Ray Miller are hustling up support from Democratic precinct committee officers who will vote out their top three choices Tuesday. Sometime in the following week, the Snohomish County Council will appoint one of them.

All seven are respectable members of the community with solid Democratic credentials and similar philosophical approaches to governing.

None of them are political rock stars and most are not widely known among voters. Whoever is appointed will need to squeeze out every ounce of advantage from their incumbent status to retain the job in next fall’s election.

As a newcomer, they’ll be politically vulnerable. Any vote they take, bill they introduce, utterance they make could find its way into the campaign. As a latecomer, they will be unable to fund raise during the 2014 session, while any Republican challenger can.

Those are small factors in Republicans’ favor. And they may not be the only ones.

Voters in the district may be less enamored with embracing all Democrats for office after seeing two of them, County Executive Aaron Reardon and state Sen. Nick Harper, resign in disgrace this year.

And if Republicans field a candidate with a strong resume and ample campaign billfold — something they’ve not done in recent years — victory isn’t beyond grasp.

Much of it will depend on what happens in Everett, where the largest chunk of the district’s voters resides.

While Everett voters only seem to send Democrats to do their bidding in Olympia, they are not afraid of electing Republicans to the nonpartisan City Council.

Scott Bader proved it last November when he defeated June Robinson for a council seat by roughly 1,800 votes. Though there was no “R” next to Bader’s name or “D” next to Robinson’s; one didn’t have to work very hard to find out what political party each associated with.

It was an impressive performance in a presidential election year. Democrats turned out more voters than Republicans and outspent them to make sure everyone knew the names of all the Democrats on the ballot.

Still, in numerous Everett precincts, Bader received as many votes as McCoy did in his legislative race.

Campaign strategists view such ballot behavior as an opportunity to snare votes from the less partisan members of their opponent’s party.

Republican Party leaders may see this as one more selling point to those they’re recruiting to do battle for the seat in 2014.They’ll need a few as they know history is not on their side.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623 or

38th District Rep John McCoy transitions to senate

Facebook photo
Facebook photo

By Niki Cleary, Tulalip News

A Tulalip Tribal member and Washington State Legislator, John McCoy has had a significant impact on the reservation simply by being successful. He was elected to serve in the House of Representatives in 2003, and was one of two Native American Representatives in Washington State. On November 27th, 2013, McCoy was unanimously selected by the Snohomish County Council to fill a Senate position left vacant by Senator Nick Harper’s resignation.

“John has always been a mover and shaker,” said Tulalip Chairman Mel Sheldon. “He’s helped change the way the legislature views Native Americans and has paved the way for our young men and women to follow in his footsteps. He’s brought hope that in the near future we’ll see the face of state politics change to reflect importance of tribes, both as economic drivers in the state and as an important part of the history and culture of this land.”

His resonance with tribes is part of what got McCoy elected, but what’s kept him in office, and made him the frontrunner for the senate seat is his dedication to the everyman.

“My priorities haven’t changed,” said John. “My priorities have always been elders, children and the working adult. During this last interim I worked a lot on migrant, low income and mental health housing. I’ll continue that work. There are dental access issues that I’ll be working on.

“I’ll continue working hard for the 38th Legislative District, Snohomish County and Washington State as a whole,” continued McCoy. “WSU (Washington State University) is coming to Everett, so that’s another thing I’ll be working on. There are some environmental things I’ll be working on. Again, whatever is best for the district, the county and the state, it’s the same stuff, different chamber.”

Tulalip Board of Director and Business Committee Chairman Glen Gobin described McCoy’s appointment by saying McCoy is simply the best man for the job.

“Congratulations to John,” said Gobin. “John has stayed very active and involved, not just the legislative district he is elected to, but all across the state as well as this nation. John also has served, unofficially, as an ambassador for Washington State Tribes, helping to educate those he serves with, and his constituency, about Native American issues as well as misperceptions about Native Americans. John’s commitment to serve the people is reflected in the vote from the Snohomish County Council. I am proud of John. He is well suited to do the work that is needed, and I know well he will do a great job.”

For those who haven’t thought about State governance since high school civics class, McCoy described the differences between the House of Representatives and the State Senate.

“There aren’t as many senators. Each district has two representatives and one senator, 98 representatives and 49 senators,” he explained. “The representatives serve two-year terms and senators serve four-year terms. The house side gets through processes faster, the senate is designed to be more constrained. The Washington State Legislative House cranks out between 3,000 and 5,000 bills a session. Consequently, some are good and some are not. The Senate is more pragmatic and selective, they work the issues more. That’s by design.”

That pragmatism is a good fit for McCoy who believes his popularity in politics are a result of being honest and caring, but blunt.

“I don’t beat around the bush,” said McCoy, “I had a couple meetings this morning with some folks who wanted money. I said, ‘I support your issues, but I don’t know that we can get you money this year.’ It’s about being up front with people and letting them know where you stand. I can’t make everybody happy, but at least they can understand why I can’t make them happy. They generally feel good as long as they know where they stand.”

When the term for his Senate seat ends, McCoy plans to run for election.

“This is a natural step for me,” he said.

Six vie for state House seat vacated by McCoy

Democratic precinct officers will select three names Dec. 10 to forward to the county council.

By Jerry Cornfield, Herald writer

EVERETT — A small crowd of Democrats is lining up for a chance to fill John McCoy’s seat in the state House, with a decision anticipated next week.

Six people are reportedly seeking the job which opened up following McCoy’s Nov. 27 appointment to the state Senate. He’s taking former state Sen. Nick Harper’s place.

June Robinson, Jennifer Smolen, Ed Triezenberg, Kelly Wright, David Simpson and Ray Miller are working to corral support from Democratic precinct committee officers, who will meet Dec. 10 to vote on their top three choices for the post. That meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Labor Temple in Everett.

Names of those nominees will be sent to the Snohomish County Council which will select the new lawmaker, possibly the next day.

Whoever gets the gig will serve in 2014 as representative for the 38th Legislative District which includes Everett, Tulalip and part of Marysville. To keep the $42,106-a-year job, they will need to run and win a full two-year term in next fall’s election.

Robinson is an Everett resident whose career has centered on managing community health and affordable housing programs. She lost races for Everett City Council in 2011 and 2012.

This fall she had been seeking appointment to a vacant council seat when Harper resigned and set off the process now culminating in the filling of McCoy’s House seat. She ended her pursuit of the council position to try to secure the legislative job.

Smolen, of Marysville, worked as an aide to state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, in the 2011 legislative session and then for Snohomish County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright until early last year.

She also is a veteran, having served eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve, including a combat tour in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.

Wright, of Marysville, is a former aide in the state House and one-time Marysville mayoral candidate. He made a bid for the Senate seat and finished behind McCoy and Rep. Mike Sells in balloting by precinct committee officers.

He has said he’s only interested in serving as a caretaker of the House seat for the 2014 session and would not run for a full term in 2014.

Triezenberg, of Tulalip, is a former lobbyist for the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters and presently works for the Carpenters Union.

He told precinct committee officers in a Nov. 12 email that Republicans will target this seat next year and he possesses the “competence, experience and electability” required to keep it a Democratic seat. He said he would run for the seat in the 2014 election regardless of the outcome of the appointment process.

Simpson, of Everett, served on the Everett City Council from 1998 through 2001 and briefly as an appointed state legislator.

In 2004, he was appointed to fill a vacant House seat but then lost it that fall when Sells won the election.

Miller, of Marysville, a certified veterans services officer, and founder and president of the nonprofit veteran assistance group, Vets Place Northwest-Welcome Home. He also is vice-chairman of the 38th Legislative District Democrats.