OLYMPIA — Even before she was sworn in this week as the 42nd district’s newest state lawmaker, Rep. Sharon Shewmake was elected by her colleagues to be vice chair of the House Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee.
That’s not just a random assignment. Shewmake’s Whatcom County district contains some of Washington’s most productive farmland, and Whatcom’s new representative comes to the House with a Ph.D. in agriculture and resource economics.
“I’d say Sharon showed up at just the right time,” said Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen), who chairs the committee. “We’ve launched an all-fronts effort to boost Washington’s rural economy, and her economics background and deep knowledge of agriculture position Sharon to be one of our key resources.”
Shewmake (D-Bellingham) is a professor of economics in Western Washington University’s College of Business and Economics.
“As a freshman legislator, I feel fortunate to be seated as vice chair of the committee I had most wanted to serve on. A lot of our rural communities haven’t really shared in what I’ll call the I-5 economic boom, and the rural development campaign launched last year by House Democrats has the potential to do a tremendous amount of good. I look forward to helping however I can.”
In addition to the rural development panel, Shewmake will also serve on the Transportation Committee and the Environment & Energy Committee.