Harriet Spanel

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Harriet A. Spanel was a former Washington State Senator (Democrat) for the 40th District, which includes San Juan, northwestern Skagit and southwestern Whatcom counties. She was the Majority Caucus Chair.

She was a member of Financial Institutions, Housing & Consumer Protection, Natural Resources, Ocean & Recreation, Transportation, and Rules committees.

Spanel was born and raised on an Iowa farm; she earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Iowa State University. She was a longtime activist in local and state issues and is involved in a wide variety of organizations including the League of Women Voters.

She lived in Bellingham since 1968, raising three children and quickly becoming an influential presence in the community alongside her husband Les.

In 1994, Spanel ran for the open Congressional seat, but lost by a 55%-45% margin against the eventual winner Jack Metcalf. She announced that she would not run for re-election in 2008.[1]

Spanel died on February 2, 2016 at the age of 77. She is most remembered for her unyielding commitment to public service, equality and the environment.


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