Biography

Representative Gerry Pollet serves the 46th Legislative District.

After graduating from the University of Washington Law School, he chose a career as a public interest attorney protecting our environment, children, consumers, promoting open government; and, teaching a new generation of public health and law students.

Gerry continues to be active, as he was for many years before becoming a legislator, in numerous neighborhood and public school causes, including working to fully fund public schools, advocate for special education, and helping form the parent coalition working to reduce the overcrowding of public schools in Seattle.  He has assisted in organizing and legal efforts in Kenmore and Lake Forest Park to protect local streams, preserve open space and work for the cleanup of toxic dioxin in North Lake Washington. Gerry serves on the Board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

Gerry is the vice-chair of the House Higher Education Committee and serves as one of Washington’s three commissioners on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (which oversees the Western Interstate Undergraduate Exchange providing low tuition for Washington residents attending other state’s public universities as well as being one of the nation’s leading providers of research on access and quality for higher education).

As the Executive Director of Heart of America Northwest (the region’s leading citizens’ group dedicated to the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation), national and regional news media often call on Gerry’s expertise regarding contamination and risks at Hanford. The reservation is the most contaminated area in the western hemisphere. His organizing and advocacy to protect the Columbia River stopped USDOE’s dumping untreated liquid radioactive and chemical wastes straight into the soil and ended plans to use Hanford’s unlined soil landfills as a national chemical-radioactive waste dump for nuclear weapons production. He has sought to protect cleanup workers from deadly exposures to beryllium, toxic vapors and radiation. For more than 10 years, Gerry chaired the committee of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Advisory Board which oversees Hanford’s $2 billion per year budgets, management, and contracts. His work on contract reforms and reducing overhead costs is estimated to have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Gerry teaches at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health and some courses at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance; and, he runs a summer internship program for law students in tribal and environmental law. He frequently guest lectures on environmental law and policy, risk assessment, freedom of information/public records, and public participation.

Gerry’s groundbreaking work has been honored by various organizations across the state. In 2010, the University of Washington School of Public Health honored Gerry with its annual Community Service Award. Gerry was also awarded the top annual award for peace and environmental work by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility in 2005. Heart of America Northwest was named “Best Regional Environmental Group” by Spokane’s environmental and peace organizations. He has been the only legislator honored two years in a row as the Legislator of Year by the state’s public university and college students’ Washington Student Association for his advocacy to improve access to higher education. Gerry has also been recognized by the League of Women Voters with its Sunshine in Government award for his role promoting freedom of information, access to public records and open meetings.

Gerry counts amongst his most significant legislative achievements: the first in the nation regulation to prevent youth use of e-cigarettes and “vape” products and provide state oversight of toxic chemicals in the products; lifting the cap on the number of special education students who the state provides funding for; tens of millions of dollars in funding for renovating and rebuilding schools in the district to address overcrowding; expanding access to affordable higher education with investments in advising and support for students; and, the law stopping predatory towing companies from charging thousands of dollars for people to get their car back if they park in the wrong space.

Gerry lives in North Seattle with his wife Janet Miller. They have two children: Eileen and Henry, who is a student at Western Washington University. In his downtime, Gerry enjoys racewalking through neighborhoods and parks in the 46th District.