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Around the Town: Lt. Governor: Little known office; very active personage

Around the Town: Lt. Governor: Little known office; very active personage
Dick Pust interviews Lt. Gov. Brad Owen in his office in front of the huge antique desk. Note the large gavel on the floor that the Lt. Gov. wields as President of the Senate.

Dick Pust interviews Lt. Gov. Brad Owen in his office in front of the huge antique desk. Note the large gavel on the floor that the Lt. Gov. wields as President of the Senate.

By Dick Pust
FTE News Magazine

Most everyone knows what the Governor does and they know his name, but how about the Lieutenant Governor? Do you know what he does? Do you know his name? In case you don’t know, the Lt. Governor is acting governor whenever the governor leaves the state or is unable to serve. The Lt. Governor also acts as President of the Senate and helps determine which legislation passes the Senate for floor debate. He often represents the state on foreign trade missions. These are just a few of his duties.

I had never been in the Lt. Governor’s office before. It’s in the Legislative Building, just down the hall from the Governor’s office. The Senate chamber is located in the middle. On the west side of the building are the offices of the State Treasurer and Secretary of State with the House chamber in the middle. To me, our state Legislative Building is the most beautiful structure in the state. Even though I’d been there many times, I looked forward to being there once again – this time to visit Lt Governor Brad Owen. Even though the position of Lt Governor could be considered the number two elected position in the state, few people know much about the person who has held the office for nearly two decades.

Arriving early for the interview, to allow plenty of time to take in my surroundings, I waited in the reception area. I was especially intrigued with a roped off display. It included an old desk and an ancient Underwood typewriter. After what seemed only a short time, Lt Governor Brad Owen, himself, ushered me into his office. Again, I was struck by my surroundings – especially the Lt Governor’s huge antique desk. Lt Governor Owen proudly showed me an old spittoon next to his desk. He said there was a time when old furnishings were simply given to state employees when they were no longer needed. As a result, many of the state’s historical items have disappeared, but his office is now trying to locate some of them through the “Capitol Furnishings Preservation Committee.” Lt Governor Owen was quick to point out that the missing items weren’t stolen. He said, years ago, when the state wanted to get rid of something; employees were told to, “Just take it.”
Lt Governor Owen is a long time resident of Mason County. He and his wife, Linda, live just outside Shelton on Highway 3. A younger Brad Owen once wanted to be a logger, but ended up owning several convenience stores which gave him a chance to interact face to face with local residents. Perhaps this is what inspired him to get into politics. He was elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 1976 and the Stare Senate in 1983. In 1996, he was elected as Washington State’s 15th Lieutenant Governor. He has since been re-elected four times.

He still loves Shelton, which he describes as a “neat little town with everything you need.” His favorite restaurant is Xinhs Clam and Oyster House on Railroad Avenue in downtown Shelton and he enjoys the area’s annual “Oyster Fest.”

Lt Governor Owen says what he likes most about his job is helping people. He says there have been occasions when the power of his office has allowed him to “open doors” and get problems solved for people in need. On a more formal basis, the Lt Governor is dedicated to providing leadership in the field of public health and safety, with an emphasis on substance abuse and prevention. He is chair of Washington State Mentors.

The Lt Governor travels a lot. In fact he says he really doesn’t spend that much time in his office. He’s often away on foreign trade or goodwill missions to promote stronger ties with Washington State’s economic and international community.
The thing that impressed me most about Lt Governor Brad Owen was his appreciation for the building in which he worked – its history and, most of all, the structure itself. He said, “You couldn’t build something like this now.” He said, even after all the years he’s worked there, he is still in awe of its beauty. It’s especially beautiful, he said, in the evening when the sun is going down and the last rays of sunshine hit the Capitol dome “just right.” His words got me to thinking about how so many of us take our beautiful Capitol Campus for granted. There’s a lot of beauty and history right in our backyard. I plan to enjoy it as much and as often as I can. And,.one more time, in the words of Lt Governor Brad Owen, “I look up in awe when I see the Capitol Building.”

Editor’s Note: Lt. Governor Brad Own is also a strong advocate for youth. He is Chairman of the Board of Washington State Mentors (www.wamentors.org). Next month’s FTE News Magazine will have more on the subject.

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