BLYN — Tribal leaders from the Lower Elwha Klallam, Makah, Quileute and Jamestown S’Klallam tribes honored state Sen. Jim Hargrove with gifts as he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Clallam County Democrats.
Tribal leaders shared the stage at 7 Cedars Casino on Saturday during the annual Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner to thank Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, for his years of service to the 24th Legislative District, which encompasses Clallam, Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties.
Hargrove is retiring from the Legislature after representing Olympic Peninsula communities for more than 30 years.
“We’d like to present the senator with an appreciation of [his] hard work, dedication and the way he treated the tribe,” said Kurt Grinnell, Jamestown S’Klallam tribal council member, before presenting Hargrove with a blanket.
Frances Charles, Lower Elwha Klallam chairwoman thanked Hargrove for his continued dedication to the tribes during his time in the Legislature.
“He’s a friend, he’s a family member and he has been out there for the tribes,” she said. “He’s somebody that we have called upon many times to support us — and he answers his cellphone.”
Charles pointed to social service programs Hargrove was instrumental in developing and his dedication to the youth.
Makah and Quileute tribal leaders helped Charles present Lower Elwha Klallam’s gifts: a paddle and a photo of the Elwha River taken after the removal of its two former dams.
Crystal Lyons, treasurer for the Quileute Tribal Council, lauded Hargrove’s work in education, for low income families and help with domestic violence services.
Lyons said when the Quileute tribe needed support for legislation allowing the tribe to relocate buildings away from the risk of a future tsunami, Hargrove didn’t hesitate to help.
Elected officials from the North Olympic Peninsula also lauded Hargrove’s dedication, calling him “The Senator.”
Lynn Kessler, who represented the 24th Legislative District from 1993-2011, said lawmakers depended on Hargrove’s knowledge and ability to bring both sides of the aisle together.
Hargrove knew more about the procedures and rules than anyone else in Olympia, she said.
“He is ‘The Senator’ because he is the senator everyone went to when they needed something done,” she said. “He passed more important legislation than anyone I knew in the 18 years I was in the Legislature.”
Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, said Hargrove’s legacy will have a lasting impression on the state, adding his work will last for decades to come.
Van De Wege is now seeking to fill Hargrove’s empty seat in the Senate and is challenging Danille Turissini of Port Ludlow, who calls herself and “independent GOP” candidate.
“When I did go to Jim with an idea, he got it right away,” Van De Wege said. “He was always succinct and told you what he thought.”
Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, praised Hargrove for his legislation that increased the sales tax one-tenth of 1 percent to support public and private agencies that provide mental health or chemical dependency services.
“That alone was an important accomplishment for the senator,” Tharinger said. Clallam County was the second in the state to pass the tax, he said.
Tharinger also pointed to Hargrove’s ability to work with both sides of the aisle in Olympia.
“If Jim was on board, because of his credibility, he had both sides of the aisle that would come on board,” Tharinger said. “That was really because of the respect the body had for him.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.