State Sen. Andy Hill’s death this week was untimely and unfortunate. Certainly our state will miss him in 2017 when the Legislature needs all the smart budget writers it can find to navigate toward a K-12 school funding solution.
Hill reminded us that good public servants seek a way to reach across the divide and solve problems. His death at age 54 delivered a posthumous lesson in this nasty election season from the even-keeled politician we won’t soon forget.
The Redmond Republican often stuck with his Senate GOP caucus but he was a moderate with spine on social issues such as same-sex marriage. As the top Senate budget writer, Hill collaborated with House Democrats on state spending plans that threaded the political needle and invested billions of dollars of new money into K-12 public schools.
Even as a government shutdown loomed two years ago, Hill found common cause. The co-authored budget passed the Senate and House by huge bipartisan margins. It helped that then-Rep. Ross Hunter, a pragmatist and Democrat from Medina, was on the other side of the negotiating table.
Hill’s earlier life was charmed in some respects. He was Ivy League-educated and earned enough at Microsoft that he was able to retire before he was 40. A father of young kids, he coached youth soccer. After being diagnosed with a deadly lung cancer in 2009, he received an experimental treatment that saved his life. Hill was able to run for office in 2010, won the seat, and immediately rose in the GOP ranks.
Tragically he fell sick again in June this year. Complications of that lung cancer ultimately claimed his life — leaving behind his wife, Molly, and their children, Allie, Charlie and Katie.
We can never tell the future with precision. But we can say this about the past: The Legislature was a better place with Andy Hill in it.
The nastiest U.S. national election in memory ends Tuesday. A memorial service for Hill is planned next Friday, Nov. 11, in Redmond. So this is a good time to stop and reflect on the better way of doing business.
Hill’s public service can serve as a touchstone.