Senator McCoy named 2020 Public Official of the Year by Michael Rios

Well renowned Tulalip tribal member and now retired U.S. Senator, John McCoy, was named ‘2020 Public Official of the Year’ by Evergreen State College during the college’s virtual commencement on June 12th.

“The motto of our Master of Public Administration program is ‘be the change’,” explained Evergreen’s MPA Director Dr. Michael Craw. “Senator McCoy has personally shaped the education of many of Washington’s leaders as an adjunct faculty member in our program and as the sponsor of numerous internship opportunities for students. In his courses, Senator McCoy has provided the wisdom of experience that can only come from a skilled practitioner of governance and public administration. Senator McCoy truly has been, and continues to be, the change we hope to see in Washington and the world.”

After 17 years of service in the Washington State Legislature, McCoy announced his retirement after submitting a resignation letter to Governor Jay Inslee in April. The longtime Democratic lawmaker leaves behind a legacy of steady leadership and commitment to serving his community. He brought a career in military service and years as a computer technician to his work at the Legislature, culminating in a lawmaker who effectively advanced economic development and equality of opportunity for his district.

Sen John McCoy (Tulalip) photo by Tulalip News

His work is characterized by tireless advocacy for Native American communities, expanded access to high-quality education, and environmental sustainability. Before McCoy became one of the longest serving Native American legislators in the state’s history, he led efforts to bring better telecommunication infrastructure to the Tulalip Tribes. He also helped bring to fruition the economic powerhouse that is Quil Ceda Village.

In addition to being named public official of the year, Evergreen’s faculty also voted unanimously to bestow an honorary Master of Public Administration degree upon the Tulalip elder.

“Senator McCoy has provided extraordinary educational leadership for us at Evergreen,” said college president Dr. George Bridges. “He and his tribal nation helped establish the Tribal Governance concentration in our Master of Public Administration program, which Alan Parker (Chippewa Cree) and Linda Moon Stumpff (Apache) co-founded. We look forward to celebrating the graduation of our 10th MPA Tribal Governance cohort this year.”

During his five terms in the Washington State House of Representatives, McCoy fought for students, for the environment, for a healthy economy and for tribal communities. He sponsored policy that expanded support for students struggling with behavioral and emotional health needs, protected water rights and access, and integrated comprehensive tribal history and cultural education into teacher preparation programs.

Most notably, he authored Senate Bill 5433 which was signed into law in May 2015 by Governor Inslee, making it mandatory for schools to educate students about the history and governance of northwest coastal tribes. The State has since worked diligently with Native Nations to develop a first-of-its-kind curriculum, Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State.

“When I first came home and started to work on building the Tribe’s resources, one of those resources was getting our tribal members educated,” reflected McCoy from the comforts of retirement. “Getting them educated was very important so that we could build on our resources and help our people grow.”

Additional plans are underway at Evergreen State College to create a scholarship in the Senator’s name to support future Tribal Governance students.

By Michael Rios, Tulalip News

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