No luxury of a learning curve here.
Leonard Christian – the unanimous choice of Spokane County commissioners to replace 4th District Rep. Larry Crouse last week – has been sworn in and has already begun work in Olympia.
On Monday, a day after being sworn into office at New Life Church in Spokane Valley, the 48-year-old Spokane Valley businessman and Air Force veteran, got up to speed on his legislative duties as well as casting his first vote and attending a committee hearing.
“I’m truly honored to be here and have this position entrusted to me,” Christian said. “I’m committed to being an effective representative for the people of the 4th District.”
Christian got the nod from the commissioners Jan. 8 over former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite and schoolteacher Bob McCaslin Jr., son of the late 4th District Sen. Bob McCaslin. All three names were forwarded by local Republican Party officers after Crouse announced late last year that he would be stepping down for health reasons.
The commissioners, in a statement, said they were impressed with Christian’s “deep roots” in the Spokane Valley, citing his involvement in policy issues, citing his involvement in policy issues and involvement in his political party. He has been on the GOP county board since 2008. He also ran against Vicky Dalton, county auditor, and lost.
Christian said his legislative priorities include limiting the tax burden on the public, keeping state spending under control and making government more service-oriented.
On Monday, Christian got the chance to vote on the DREAM Act, which would broaden opportunities for a college education for the children of illegal immigrants. Christian voted no, saying it was not something he or the majority of his constituents support. Fellow Republican and 4th District Rep. Matt Shea also voted no.
The measure passed in the House by a vote of 71-23. Christian also attended a House Appropriations Committee hearing. He also sites on the Capital Budget, Government Operations and Elections, and Labor and Workforce Development committees.
“I think my committee assignments match my experience and will allow me to be engaged in policies that will benefit my constituents,” he said.
Christian received his master’s in business administration in December.
If he wishes to retain the District 4 seat, Christian will have to run for office next November. Potential challengers include Wilhite, McCaslin and former Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey.
The 4th District represents the Spokane Valley area, northeast Spokane County, Liberty Lake, Millwood, Peone Prairie, Mead, Colbert, Chattaroy and Elk.