OLYMPIA—During a somber joint session in the Capitol building yesterday, members from the House and Senate met to honor former Washington elected officials who have passed away in the last two years. Among those honored was former State Rep. Ida Ballasiotes, a Mercer Island Republican who died at the age of 78 last year.
Ballasiotes entered politics after the tragic murder of her daughter at the hands of a sex offender. Spurred by responses she received on why her daughter’s killer had been in a position to harm others, she organized and worked with groups to demand tougher laws and sentencing. Her work led to a task force on criminal sentencing reforms and eventually helped pass the required registration of sex offenders.
After her work as a citizen activist, Ballasiotes went on to elective office in 1992, serving as State Representative for five terms. She advocated for the “three-strikes” initiative which requires life sentences for criminals convicted of three serious felonies, and she later would serve on the state Sentencing Guidelines Commission.
“Ida was a wonderful stateswoman with a commitment to make our state a safer place to live and work,” said Rep. Judy Clibborn. “I am saddened by her passing, but her legacy will live on.”
“Having served with Ida on the Mercer Island fire station campaign and now as a State Representative myself, it was particularly poignant for me to pay tribute in Olympia to her public service,” said Rep. Tana Senn.
Rep. Ballasiotes was represented at the ceremony by Reps. Clibborn and Senn with a rose and candle-lighting at the ceremony.