State Rep. Mary Helen Roberts announces she won’t seek re-election

Rep. Mary Helen Roberts
Rep. Mary Helen Roberts

Rep. Mary Helen Roberts has announced that she will not seek re-election to the Washington State House of Representatives.

The Lynnwood Democrat, who is on her fifth term in the Washington Legislature, made the announcement during a series of town hall meetings last weekend.

Here’s an excerpt of a news release from her office:

“While the 21st District is diverse in many ways, our families share most of the same values and goals: safe and strong communities, quality education for our children, accessible health-care, a clean environment, and economic vitality,” said the Lynnwood Democrat. “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made together in these and other areas, and am deeply grateful for the confidence and trust that people placed in me.”

During her tenure in the House of Representatives, Roberts served on committees that addressed issues relating to higher education, labor, children and human services, justice, and public safety.

Over the past decade, she focused her efforts on improving the lives of children, youth and working families by establishing policies that take into account individual circumstances instead of relying on cookie-cutter procedures.

One of her main concerns is that the state’s prisons are overcrowded with people who would likely have a higher chance of reforming somewhere else. To address the issue, she worked with law enforcement agencies and youth advocates to establish alternatives to incarceration.

“It’s not just that we’re running out of room, it’s also about realizing that there are other options to putting people behind bars that can bring about better outcomes,” Roberts explained. “Giving flexibility to law enforcement and the courts to direct someone to appropriate services may be the difference between getting juveniles on the right path, or having them recycle through the criminal justice system.”

To this end, she successfully shepherded legislation to:

-Ensure young offenders are tried in juvenile, instead of adult court and that their records can be sealed under specific circumstances.
-Take individuals with mental disorders who commit non-felony offenses to triage facilities instead of jail.
-Expand diversion options for youth with mental health disorders so they can get treatment

“These ten years have been both rewarding and exhausting. I’m looking forward to being more involved in my local community, and spending more time with family, friends and my cats,” added Roberts.

So far, two Democrats have declared they are running for Roberts’ seat: Darrell Chapman of Edmonds and Scott Whelpley of Mukilteo.

The 21st Legislative District includes most of Edmonds, plsu unincorporated areas north of Edmonds and Lynnwood, all of Mukilteo, and part of south Everett.

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