DAYTON, Washington — Rep. Terry Nealey (R-Dayton), announced on Tuesday that he will not be seeking another term to the Washington State House of Representatives.
Nealey, a former Columbia County prosecuting attorney and coroner, has served the 16th District as state representative since he was first elected in 2009. An attorney with an office in Dayton, Nealey retired from his private practice in 2015.
“It has been an honor and a great adventure to serve the citizens of the 16th District and the state of Washington. I’ve met so many people and made a lot of new friends,” said Nealey. “It takes an enormous amount of time and commitment to serve as a legislator. I appreciate my family’s sacrifice, especially my wife, Jan, for her tremendous support during the time I have served. After a great deal of soul searching, I have decided it is best to retire from the Legislature at the end of my term in January and spend more time with my family.”
In December 2012, Nealey was named ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee, which considers taxes and tax exemptions related to state revenues. In February 2013, he was appointed to the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council as the House Republican representative. He continues to serve on both groups. He also served on the House Appropriations Committee during the 2017 session at the height of McCleary education funding negotiations.
“When I first considered this office, it was out of growing frustration with the state operating budget. I felt the Legislature was going the wrong way. It was expanding government, overspending, not putting money away during good economic times, and then asking citizens to dig deeper in their pockets when they could hardly afford it during economic downturns.” said Nealey.
Nealey had been familiar with the Legislature from previous years. His father, Darwin Nealey, served as a state representative in the 9th Legislative District from Whitman County, from 1983 to 1994.
“I knew this state could do a better job managing the budget. I felt I could influence it and that’s why I ran. Today, we have $1.8 billion in the state’s rainy day fund. We’ve directed a record amount of money into K-12 education and our state budget is on much more solid ground than nine years ago. There are still challenges in the budget, but we’ve been able to address most of the state’s needs within existing revenue, while staving off tax increases. The budget outlook is better off than when I first arrived in Olympia,” added Nealey.
Nealey also noted his work on energy, water and agricultural issues.
“Southeast Washington is the power belt of the Northwest. We have clean hydropower, carbon-free baseload nuclear power and wind, but few in Olympia were talking about how to make the best use of these resources and plan for the future. I worked to open a conversation about creating a long-term state energy policy that would work to keep rates low while preparing for expected demands in the coming years,” said Nealey.
“Between the budget, energy policies and bringing a perspective to Olympia from the standpoint of a rural attorney and businessman, I hope I’ve been able to make a positive difference for the district,” he added. “I have appreciated the opportunity, but now is the time to finish my work in the Legislature.”