Mar 15, 2024 - News

Meet Washington state's 18-year-old legislator

A young state legislator holds up her hand as she is sworn into office.

Rep. Lilian Hale takes the oath of office from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven C. González. Photo: Courtesy of the Washington State House of Representatives

Lilian Hale of Cathlamet became Washington state's youngest legislator last week when she was sworn in as a proxy for her stepfather, Republican state Rep. Joel McEntire.

Driving the news: McEntire, a U.S. Marine Corps reservist, was called away on military duty and Hale will serve until his return.

  • Washington state allows a temporary successor to be appointed for legislators on leave for military service or training.
  • While Hale was sworn in on the last day of the regular session, which was also her 18th birthday, she will head back to Olympia if a special session is called, she told Axios.

The latest: Hale voted on final amendments to several measures, as well as the deals lawmakers reached on the state transportation budget and operating budget.

  • Her own personal politics lean a little more left than her stepfather's, she said, and she considers herself a moderate who sees things that "make sense" in proposals from both Democrats and Republicans.

The intrigue: While Hale found the experience exciting, she said she has no plans to pursue a political career.

  • A nursing student at Lower Columbia College, Hale plans to go into either labor and delivery or hospice nursing before becoming a school nurse.

What they're saying: "I always thought of politics as legalized adult bullying," she said. "Online and in debates, so many politicians bash each other and say the meanest things."

Fun facts: Instagram is her most-used social media platform and Pike Place Market her favorite place to visit in Seattle.

  • While some spouses have stepped in for legislators in the past, Hale's mother just had a baby, which is among the reasons she stepped up to serve in her stepfather's stead.
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