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Rep. Liias appointed to replace Sen. Shin in state Senate

State Rep. Marko Liias - Courtesy photo
State Rep. Marko Liias
— image credit: Courtesy photo

By Elliot Suhr
WNPA Olympia News Service

On Tuesday afternoon, the Snohomish County Council appointed Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, to succeed Sen. Paull Shin in the 21st Legislative District.

Political newcomer and Mukilteo resident Lillian Ortiz-Self was also appointed by the council to take Liias' seat in the House.

Sen. Paull Shin, 78, worked as a state legislator for 18 years. His sudden resignation at the beginning of the Legislative session was effective immediately following his diagnosis with Alzheimer's disease.

"It's kind of sad to think about another era ending and another one starting," said Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline.

Elected to the state Senate in 1999, Shin would often tell his life story while campaigning.

Orphaned at the age of 4, Shin lived on the streets of Seoul, Korea, until he was adopted by an American G.I. at the age of 16 and brought to America. He went on to earn a doctorate in history from the University of Washington and ran a successful real-estate business.

During his time as a legislator, Shin advocated for international trade and education. During the 2012 Legislative session, he served on the Economic Development, Trade and Innovation Committee and was vice chair of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.

"He was everywhere all the time. He even flew all the way to Korea for a meeting, then hopped on the next plane 12 hours later to return to Washington state," Ryu said.

In addition to promoting trade between Washington and Asian countries, Shin advocated for adoptees.

"Marko, I don't think he has that kind of experience," Shin said in an interview Thursday, referring to his own international expertise. "But it is up to the leadership of the Senate to determine what kind of position he will be placed in."

"Because of his life experiences, he was an expert on international trade and he was a college professor," said Liias. "I bring a different set of life experiences."

Before he was elected to the Legislature in 2008, Liias worked as a freelance journalist, a communications adviser and a small-business owner.

Liias has served as the vice chair of the House Transportation committee and was appointed to the Education Committee and Technology, Energy and Communications committee and is one of six openly gay members of the Legislature.

"I know Marco's emphasis has been in transportation, which wasn't Sen. Shin's because his was in education and trade," said Ryu. "So it will be different in that way, but it won't change the Democratic makeup in the Senate."

"I think I'm more passionate and tend to be more outspoken," Liias said. "I think that Paull was someone that was incredibly compassionate and very thoughtful. He was at times careful about where he contributed."

While Shin said his Christian faith prevented him from voting on social issues such as same-sex marriage, former seatmates say he was never quick to criticize other viewpoints.

"People are so grateful for all that Paull gave to our community. I know people will miss him, they'll miss his voice and his compassionate heart," Liias said.

He added: "That's a part of his legacy that I need to remember. To be an advocate for people.”

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