Nealey takes oath as new 16th District state representative

Dayton lawmaker says budget, agriculture, energy are top issues to be addressed

Raising his right hand, Terry Nealey today swore to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Washington and to “faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of a Washington state representative.” With that, Nealey, who was elected Nov. 3, became the newest state representative for the 16th Legislative District.

The oath of office was administered in the chamber of the House of Representatives by his longtime friend, Lewis County Superior Court Judge Richard Brosey. Nealey was accompanied by his wife of 40 years, Jan, his son, Keith Nealey, and daughter, Kristin Meier. Many other family members and friends also attended the ceremony.

The co-owner of a Dayton law firm said he looks forward to getting to work for the 16th District.

“I have a strong family history of public service ingrained within me and have always felt it important to give back to my community. In the 34 years I’ve lived in Dayton, I’ve been involved in many local projects. I’m proud of my community and its progress over those years,” said Nealey. “However, there are many growing challenges facing all of our local communities. People want someone with experience in business and agriculture who will command a strong voice in Olympia, a representative who understands our economic and energy issues, and who knows every corner of our diverse area. It’s a new adventure, and I am both humbled and honored to be elected to serve. Now it’s time to step forward and work for solutions that will help the 16th District.”

Nealey was compelled to seek the position when the Legislature outspent a $2 billion budget surplus and turned it into a deficit exceeding $9 billion.

“The budget is the biggest challenge before us. Here we are facing another budget deficit close to $3 billion. We’ve got to clean up this financial mess — and certainly not with tax increases,” he noted. “In the past four years, spending has grown by more than 30 percent. We need to stop the state from spending more than it takes in.

“We can handle this deficit by setting better priorities and providing a leaner, more efficient government,” added Nealey. “It won’t be without pain. But we have to recognize there are businesses and individuals who are also struggling in this economy. The Legislature should not be asking them to pay more in taxes to bail out state government from the poor spending decisions made during the past four years.”

Nealey, who was raised on an Eastern Washington farm that produced wheat, cattle and hay, says another major issue for the district is retaining jobs in agriculture.

“Certainly, I think the best way to help agriculture is to keep state regulations to a minimum,” he said.

The newly sworn representative also said he has a vision for the future of energy production in Washington.

“Hydroelectric power ought to be declared to be a renewable energy source. I’m very familiar with wind energy, representing farmers and landowners in negotiating leases with wind-energy companies. Wind is a small, but important source to add to the grid,” said Nealey. “I am also a strong proponent of nuclear energy. Part of the district covers the Tri-Cities where many resources for producing clean nuclear power are located, along with a large concentration of PhDs who have the brain power to know how to safely proceed. If we combined nuclear, hydropower, wind and biomass resources, Washington would have a tremendous competitive edge over anyone else in the nation.”

As a former Columbia County prosecuting attorney, the new Republican lawmaker said he will work to ensure the strength of public safety laws, even in the face of budget challenges.

“If offenders are deemed to be a danger to society, they need to be kept locked up. That also means preserving bed space against budget cuts proposed at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla and ensuring there are enough guards to safely handle the criminals who are housed there,” he added.

One of the most complex issues, said Nealey, is access to health care. He suggested it would be best to see what legislation Congress approves before trying to come up with a “finely-tuned plan” at the state level.

“We need to be patient and wait for Congress,” said Nealey, “and then dove-tail our solutions depending upon what is handed down by the federal government.”

Born in Walla Walla, Nealey is a life-long resident of Eastern Washington, graduating from Washington State University and Gonzaga Law School. He and his wife have two adult children and five grandchildren.

“I invite people to contact me with their comments and suggestions. My plan is to have an open door for my constituents, to listen carefully to them and try to understand the issues no matter how complex, to thoughtfully deliberate before making a decision, and to work with lawmakers from both parties — Republican and Democrat — for the best solutions that will help my district and the state of Washington,” concluded Nealey.

His new office address at the state Capitol is:
Rep. Terry Nealey
402 John L. O’Brien Building
P.O. Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
Telephone: (360) 786-7828
Web site:


Washington State House Republican Communications