Oke's health concerns won't keep him from serving term

Jan. 10 marks the start of the 15th Legislative Session for Washington State Sen. Bob Oke, and he says he is ready to go.

Health problems have plagued the senator since he was diagnosed in May with multiple myeloma, a rare, incurable cancer that weakens the bones.

Unfortunately, he said he’s not doing nearly as well as he has been recently. Oke said he is even considering the possibility of a stem cell transplant as a last resort.

“Right now, my plan is no matter what to be in Olympia on the 10th,” Oke said.

Oke will serve on the Transportation Committee, where he is the ranking Republican.

“After all the years I’ve put in, I’m just thankful to be there,” Oke said.

He said he will continue to push for an early start date for the Burley-Olalla Interchange.

He will also return to the Ocean Research and Natural Resources and Recreation Committee and will serve on the Washington State Ferries Tariff Review Committee.

However, his first priority has nothing to do with his committee assignments.

“My No. 1 priority is to end tobacco sampling in the state of Washington,” Oke said.

According to Oke, thousands of samples are given out every year at rodeos, race tracks and fairs.

“There’s no good reasons to pass out samples of something that can kill someone,” Oke said. “It’s something I’ve tried to get through the Legislature several times before.”

Oke is passionate about the ban on tobacco samples because he himself is an ex-smoker and he said that his mother and father would be alive today if it weren’t for tobacco products.

“My second priority is a million dollars for the restoration of Long Lake,” Oke said.

Oke also looks forward to working with his fellow Legislators from the 26th District, Pat Lantz and Derek Kilmer.

“One of the things I’m blessed with is that I can work with anyone,” Oke said.

“My job as a Republican senator is not being a Republican, it’s getting things passed for the people. I learned a long time ago that once the session starts, the campaign is over.”

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