You could say she was hand-picked for the job. When Tana Senn was sworn in as the newest member of the state legislature on Monday, the moment followed a whirlwind of activity after Senn’s predecessor announced her resignation from her seat earlier in the summer.
“About six weeks ago, right before Marcie Maxwell stepped down — about 10 minutes before she stepped down — she gave me a call and she said, ‘Tana, I’m taking a job with the governor’s office, and would love for you to put your name in to replace me in the legislature,’” said Senn, 42.
After some consultation with her husband and two children, she decided to throw her hat into the ring.
“I looked at my kids and I thought, ‘this is going to be really hard,’” she said. “I also looked at them and I thought, ‘I have to do this, because we need more women and people with kids in Olympia.’ I thought it was really important to do this.”
From there came a nomination process through the 41st District Democrats — because Maxwell is a Democrat, the Democratic party recommends a nominee. After Senn rose to the top of that process, her name was submitted to the King County Council for a vote. Senn met with council members last week, and was sworn in during a council meeting in downtown Seattle on Sept. 9.
“I was very impressed with the local government experience, and I think that will be very helpful to all of us in Olympia to have more people who have local government experience,” said council member Kathy Lambert prior to the vote.
Council member Jane Hague said Senn “served admirably in other civic responsibilities and has shone, and I think this is an obvious next step forward.”
The council voted 8-0, with one member absent, to appoint Senn to the seat.
“Tana’s lifelong passion for policy and experience on the City Council will serve her well in Olympia and allow her to hit the ground running,” said Maxwell in a statement. “Our district is lucky to have her represent us.”
Senn’s current government experience is as a sitting Mercer Island City Council member. She plans to keep that seat.
“I’m very committed to Mercer Island and Mercer Island City Council, and I’m proud of not having missed any meetings,” she said. “I realize the time in Olympia might not allow that [to continue].”
But, she said, because the upcoming session is only 60 days, “at most I would miss a couple meetings, I would think.”
Senn has also previously chaired the government affairs committee at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and worked there for two years as its director of marketing and communications.
As she begins to go out and meet the citizens in her district, which covers Mercer Island, parts of Bellevue, Sammamish and Renton, as well as some rural areas, Senn said she has three issues she wants to focus on.
“A transportation package [is] desperately needed for the entire region, but especially for the 41st, which borders I-90 and 405 and 167, so that’s a critical issue,” she said. “Fully funding education, of course — we’ve got to continue our work in that direction. And then making our communities safer, and passing background checks for gun purchases.”
Though it’s still four months before the next session begins, Senn said she’s excited to get to know her constituency and her colleagues.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the Jewish caucus, I’m excited to be a part of the women in Olympia and keeping that number up, and I’m very honored to be replacing Marcie Maxwell,” Senn said. “She was quite an impressive woman and I know there’ll be big shoes to fill.”