After 17 years in the Washington Legislature, Sen. Kirk Pearson is resigning to take a position in the Trump administration.

The Monroe resident has been appointed as rural development state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His last day representing the 39th District, which encompasses sections of Snohomish, King and Skagit counties, will be before his Nov. 13 start date at his new job.

“I have been proud and honored to represent the people of my area,” Pearson said in a news release. “We’ve been through a lot — the Oso mudslide, the concerns for the safety of correctional officers working at the state penitentiary at Monroe, and the statewide concerns about the spread of wildfire.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Pearson's selection Friday among others who will work for the federal Farm Service Agency and Rural Development offices. Pearson will fill a role in the latter.

The new directors are to serve as appointees to Trump, according to the release. FSA directors will help carry out policies and FSA programs and assist in day-to-day operations in their state offices. The rural development directors will work to improve the economy and quality of life in rural areas throughout the country.

“These state directors will help ensure that the USDA is offering the best customer service to our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural producers across the country,” Perdue said in the USDA release.

Pearson said he will keep his Monroe address and work full time in Olympia. That means long hours and a long commute, but he said he wants to make sure he spends time in the Sky Valley.

Pearson was approached and recommended for the job; the opportunity first came up around a month ago. It's been a fast transition. He said he believes his effectiveness as a leader and ability to work well with his colleagues stood out and is what he will bring to the federal agency. 

“I am delighted,” he said. “I mean, it's one of those things you wish your parents were alive to see.”

Pearson is chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee and a member of the State Government, Agriculture, Water, Trade and Economic Development and Rules committees. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2000, where he served six terms before moving to the Senate in 2012.

In the House, Pearson worked on domestic violence issues on the Public Safety and Law and Justice committees. He was reelected to the senate for his second four-year term last November. Throughout his service, he has advocated for rural communities and strong leadership on natural resources issues.

His resignation will follow a successful 2017 session, according to the release.

This year his committee probed Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife management practices, and was able to get three notable bills passed, according to the release. The group pushed for policy Pearson introduced to mitigate the spread of elk hoof disease among the state's herds; another successful bill will place more drop boxes in every city, town or census-designated location with a post office, so voters in smaller communities aren't deterred by pricy postage during an election.

Also signed into law was a measure Pearson introduced that requires sexual assault victims to be notified when offenders petition for their names to be removed from the state sex-offender registry. Pearson has also been a voice for drivers on State Route 522, who hope to see some relief from the stop-and-go traffic common during commute hours. He advocated for funds at the start of the session for Maltby's Paradise Lake Road intersection.

In addition to $750,000 for the design, traffic analysis and community engagement, he also sought $3.5 million for the intersection replacement, as well as constructing turn lanes east and westbound on the roadway and widening the bottleneck from one to two lanes between the Snohomish River to Paradise Lake Road.

The ask included $16 million for replacing fish culverts related to the project. Only the $750,000 request was upheld, but those were funds previously slated for use years out.

Pearson is a fourth-generation Snohomish County resident. He and his wife, Rachel, have five sons and four grandchildren. He graduated from Monroe High School, and then went on to the Wenatchee Valley College and Central Washington University. He is an avid weightlifter in his spare time.

This week, Pearson is tying up loose ends in Olympia, according to the release. He said he has been reading up on the job and getting ready to jump right into the work. He said he will miss serving in the Legislature.

“What I loved most were the friendships I made and the opportunity to serve the people of the 39th District,” Pearson said in the release. “I am looking forward to serving them in a greater capacity, as well as the people throughout Washington state and our great country.”