Join us in welcoming Ruta Fanning, former state budget director, as the newest community representative on The Olympian’s editorial board.
Nineteen years ago, The Olympian began inviting a South Sound resident to join the board to help shape the editorial position of the newspaper. The program proved so popular that we added a second community representative 13 years ago.
The two community representatives join publisher George Le Masurier, managing editor Jerry Wakefield and editorial page editor Mike Oakland on the editorial board.
The community representatives sit in on Wednesday morning editorial board meetings, where guests such as local elected officials, community activists and state leaders share their views of current events. After the guests depart, the board members discuss the official position of the newspaper should take on those and other issues.
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We changed things up a bit last year when we shifted from six-month terms to one-year appointments.
As Wakefield said, “It seems that just as the community representatives are hitting their full stride, it’s time for them to leave the board.” He advocated a yearlong term for community representatives.
And since that change was being made, Le Masurier suggested the terms of the two community board members be staggered so that there always is an experienced community voice on the board when a newcomer is added.
Katherine Mahoney, home visiting project manager at the state Department of Early Learning, has completed her term on the editorial board. Fanning joins Katie Schmidt Hurley, a fifth-generation Olympian, stay- at-home mom and community volunteer, who is midway through her stint as a community representative.
Fanning retired on Friday after 26 years of service in state government. She came to the United States from Latvia with her parents in 1950. The family fled Latvia to escape the grasp of the Soviet Union. Fanning became a U.S. citizen in 1961.
Her professional career began in the private sector and then moved to the public sector after she received a master’s in public administration degree from the University of Washington. She also holds a degree in biology from Pacific Lutheran University.
Fanning started her state career in 1982 as a budget analyst on the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Over her years she has served as state budget director for former Gov. Mike Lowry, director of management and budget for the Department of Corrections, staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, vice president of The Evergreen State College and deputy director of the Higher Education Coordinating Board. Fanning retired last week as the legislative auditor for the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee. “My résumé makes it look like I can’t keep a job, but all that experience can be put to good use as a part of the editorial process,” Fanning said. “It has taught me to respect and value diverse opinions.”
Looking ahead to her term on the board, Fanning said, “I think the newspaper will be even more important in this coming year with the economic struggles continuing and the very difficult decisions facing the governor and the Legislature. Those decisions will impact every one of us, and I look forward to being part of the editorial board’s work.”
Fanning’s husband is the owner of a small business that does landscape construction. The couple has two grown children.
Please join us in welcoming Ruta Fanning to The Olympian’s editorial board.