Mike Carrell a teacher before he wrote laws

He’s remembered as ‘kind of like Bill Nye’ by former students; in Olympia he championed ethics, health

Staff writerJune 11, 2013 

Mike Carrell was remembered Monday for his decades as a math and science teacher as much as his 18 years as a Republican lawmaker from Lakewood.

“His legacy is as much in his pupils as it is in his legislation,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, who spoke to assembled legislators on the state Senate floor as Carrell’s bereaved family members and friends looked on from the gallery above.

One of those pupils, then a seventh-grader at what is now Keithley Middle School in Parkland, later became a lobbyist working in Olympia who now remembers Carrell for his high energy and high standards.

“He was kind of like ‘Bill Nye, the Science Guy.’ He was super engaging. He really loved the topic,” Carrie Tellefson said after the memorial. She recalled that Carrell “wanted everyone to catch the same bug that he did about science.”

Before becoming a contract lobbyist, Tellefson worked as a staff lawyer for a committee in the House where Carrell was a member. Some staff were intimidated by his intensity on issues he cared about, but to her he was just patient, thoughtful Mr. Carrell from science class, taking an interest in where life was taking his former student.

Senators noted many of Carrell’s accomplishments Monday, including legislation on runaways and truancy, on prisoner re-entry into society, and on mental health.

They noted that even as the 69-year-old was under treatment this year for the blood condition that led to his death, the Legislature was passing bills with his name on them. He sponsored successful legislation this year to study mental-health issues and tighten state-employee ethics rules, among others.

“He did as much during his illness as we do in our health,” Inslee said.

Carrell’s death on May 29 set off dominoes that led to last week’s appointment of Rep. Steve O’Ban as a senator and now to a vacancy in O’Ban’s House seat.

The 28th District may not get a new House member anytime soon.

Pierce County Republicans said Monday they plan to meet at 6 p.m. June 25 at Lakewood City Hall to nominate a slate of three candidates.

The Pierce County Council has to pick one of the party’s choices, but needs to give notice at least a week before a council vote, unless it passes an emergency ordinance as it did last week in replacing Carrell. The House vacancy is seen as less urgent because the Democrats there had a comfortable majority even before the GOP was left one member short.

Many Republicans have expressed interest.

“They’re coming out of the woodwork,” said Bob Brown, the district GOP leader.

Already in the mix: University Place City Councilman Javier Figueroa, Clover Park School Board member Paul Wagemann, and nonprofit executive Malcolm Russell.

Others considering a run include former Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri, who the council rejected in favor of O’Ban for the Senate seat, and Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson, who said he hasn’t made a decision.

Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826 blog.thenewstribune.com/politics

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