By Michelle Lewis, Executive Assistant and Erich R. Ebel, Communications Manager
It is with a great deal of sadness that we must inform you of the peaceful passing of Senator Mike Carrell on Wednesday at University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. As you know, Senator Carrell had been battling myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, for the past several months. His condition took a marked turn for the worse over the Memorial Day weekend, ultimately leading to the 19-year veteran of the Washington State Legislature’s death in his sleep.
As his closest staff – and as his friends – we’d like to ask that you keep his wife, Charlotte, and the family in your prayers as they grieve his loss. Any cards, flowers or gifts can be sent to his Olympia office at P.O. Box 40428 Olympia, WA 98504-0428.
Mike served in the Washington State House of Representatives for 10 years before his successive elections to the Senate in 2004, 2008 and 2012, and was surrounded by family and friends when he passed. He had been receiving an aggressive treatment of stem-cell transplantation and chemotherapy since mid-April after doctors identified a donor who was a perfect match for Carrell’s bone marrow type.
During his tenure of public service, Carrell authored a landmark bill to reform the criminal justice system in Washington that better protects the public by assuring that no one community is overburdened by returning felons. He also wrote the state’s “Becca” laws, which help identify at-risk youth who skip school so they can be given the assistance they need to keep from becoming juvenile, and later adult, offenders.
Carrell was also a huge supporter of our nation’s military men, women and their families, almost annually sponsoring bills and resolutions honoring their service and making it easier for them to get jobs, go to school and adjust to civilian life after being discharged. In 2006, Carrell led the charge to rename the Berkeley Avenue overpass on Interstate 5 in Lakewood, “Freedom Bridge.” The overpass connects Lakewood with the main entrance to Camp Murray, and is the starting point for thousands of Washington National Guard members on their way to overseas deployment. It is also a gateway to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Madigan Army Medical Center; many service families have crossed Freedom Bridge to visit their loved ones over the years.
Most recently, he saw more than half a dozen of his 2013 bill proposals become law, including the first step toward creating a comprehensive, statewide mental-health database. That bill will allow law enforcement to access a complete list of individuals who should be prevented from owning firearms due to a mental illness. Additionally, Carrell’s Ethics in Public Service act will provide whistleblower protections to state employees who file ethics complaints and install financial penalties for any retaliation against the employee, as well as exempt from public disclosure the identity of any state employee who files an ethics complaint. Carrell also saw his bill to enhance the penalty for robbery of a pharmacy pass into law.
Personally, we came to know and love Mike during the eight years we were privileged to work with him. His passion for service to 28th District constituents and steadfast resilience in the face of political or personal opposition were an inspiration to us all. Often described as “one of the good guys” in state government, Mike was wholly dedicated to making Washington State a better place for all. For that, and for the honor of serving him while in office, we are truly grateful.