Lantz to retire, endorses Abel

As state lawmakers prepared this week to wrap up their latest legislative session, one longtime Democrat announced that she is wrapping up her 12-year career in the 26th District.

“I believe it is time to turn my full attention to my family,” said Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, explaining that she plans to focus on her husband, three children and five grandchildren. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people ... (but I) will not seek a seventh term.”

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, 61, who plans to seek Lantz’s seat, said Monday that she heard the latest news that the representative was not running again.

To her, however, it was far from new.

“I had heard when I threw my hat in the ring (months ago) that she was not running for another term,” Angel said, adding that she is “ready” to serve in the legislature and hopes her experience as a county commissioner will serve her well with local voters.

“The last eight years give me a real good foundation,” she said. “I understand the needs and issues of the 26th District.”

In saying goodbye, Lantz said she was grateful to her constituents for the “trust” they placed in her for so many years, and that she is “leaving on a high note, proud of the successes we’ve accomplished.”

Lantz admitted Monday that she decided last September that this would be her last term, but she did not want to announce it then for fear of having a “lame-duck” session.

“I had too much to accomplish to be in such a position,” she said, explaining that knowing it would be her last session made her work “that much harder.”

But now that her husband, John, retired last year and she feels “so many things I’ve been working on have run their course,” it was time to step down.

“I have the lightest feeling today,” she said. “It is a wonderful experience coming to an end, and time to move on to the next stage in my life. It was exciting, fascinating and I loved doing it, but now it’s time to join my husband and have some fun.”

As for who might replace her, Lantz said she has already decided whom to endorse — former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel.

“It would be a huge pleasure to pass the baton to her,” she said. “I feel extremely confident that the district would be in good hands with her.”

Reached at home Monday, Abel confirmed that she indeed plans to run for Lantz’s seat.

“I was looking for something different and challenging, and I think I found it,” she said, explaining that since she will have lots of territory to cover outside of South Kitsap including Gig Harbor, Purdy and the Key Peninsula, she plans to begin kicking off her campaign soon.

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