Washington State Politics and Government


Washington State Politics and Government

T. M. Sell

Politics and Governments of the American States Series

392 pages


November 2023


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2023


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2023


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In the twenty-first century, as many candidates actively campaign against the very government they seek to serve in, and as many people appear to believe their government irreparably broken, T. M. Sell argues that in Washington State, the system works better than most realize. In Washington State Politics and Government Sell explains how the many parts of government function and introduces readers to a diverse array of individuals who work in government, including how they got there and what it is they’re trying to do. Sell covers the three branches of state government, plus county, city, special purpose district, and tribal governments. He explains the state budgets and taxes; the functions of major and better-known state agencies; how policy is made; the political landscape of Washington; and parties, voting, and elections.

Sell discusses economic development, including the importance of high-tech industry, aviation, Amazon.com, and more traditional parts of the state economy, such as timber and agriculture. He also provides a contemporary look at Washington’s elected officials, constitution, judiciary, media, demographics, and political culture and landscape. With this volume, any Washington citizen, student of politics, or specialist in government can gain insight into the state’s current political system.

Author Bio

T. M. Sell is a professor of political economy at Highline College in Des Moines, Washington. He teaches political economy, political history, political theory, and politics. Prior to his academic career, he was a journalist in the Seattle area for twenty years. He is the author of An Introduction to Politics and Wings of Power: Boeing and the Politics of Growth in the Northwest.


“At a time in our nation’s history when civics could not be more important to the future health of our democracy, T. M. Sell comes through with an easy-to-understand resource for folks who want to tackle real problems in our communities through their political institutions and systems.”—Kristine Reeves, Washington State representative (D–Federal Way)

Washington State Politics and Government is more than just informative and illuminating: it’s a flat-out good read. Even if you consider yourself well versed in Washington politics, government, and history, you’ll likely learn something new and undoubtedly be entertained. Meticulously researched and engagingly presented, this should be on the bookshelf of every Washington student, politician, and voter.”—Cheryl Reid-Simons, Fife School Board director

Washington State Politics and Government brims with practical political wisdom and bristles with T. M. Sell’s manifold knowledge and experiences. . . . Sell is particularly adept at explaining trade-offs and compromises that make ‘the people’s business’ possible—albeit demanding, exasperating, risible, and at times perverse.”—William Haltom, professor of politics and government at the University of Puget Sound

“If you are seeking to restore your faith in the power of government to build a better society in these dark times of division, look no further than T. M. Sell’s Washington State Politics and Government, an engaging, colorful, and hopeful illumination of the mechanics of Washington State’s political world. For all of the state’s tax and geographic tensions, T. M. Sell reinforces how lucky we are to live here.”—Vicente Omar Barraza, attorney for the First Homeowners Association

Washington State Politics and Government provides detailed information every Washingtonian who wants to understand state politics and policy would benefit from. It delivers an entertaining and readable summary of how Washington State government was established, how it developed, and the nuances of our political culture, with a rich understanding of the state constitution and how law is created in Washington. Every person seeking to gain expertise in how Washington State government works needs to read it.”—Paul Berendt, former chair of the Washington State Democratic Party

“T. M. Sell provides an incredibly comprehensive description of the systems, structures, and people of Washington State government. Washington State Politics and Government includes aspects and details often missing from textbooks and overlooked by academics. Sell uses his wealth of experience to provide us with a thorough and complete accounting of how the wheels of democracy turn in Washington State. He brings the subject to life with personal stories, profiles, and an infectious passion for democracy.”—Dave Upthegrove, King County councilman

“At a time when the worst elected officials get the most attention, Washington State Politics and Government will educate and inspire the reader to believe that our collective ambitions for our community can be achieved through participation in government at every one of the many levels that exist. . . . . What a refreshing and enlightening work.”—Dan Satterberg, King County prosecuting attorney (2007–2022)

“I’ve known T. M. Sell my entire political career. This book is such a wonderful gift to all of us in Washington State and beyond at a time when we need to put partisan bickering and rhetoric-filled nonsense away. It’s such a good reminder of how much great work can be done when we bring diverse ideas and voices together for the common good.”—Mia Su-Ling Gregerson, Washington State representative, D–SeaTac

“This is a story about government, your government. It’s also why access, ownership, and voice matter. It’s why it’s called the ‘people’s house’ doing the ‘people’s business’—trying to make things better for everyone. The goal may be simple, but the process is not, which is why this book is such a great read and a great teaching tool.”—Claire Wilson, Washington State senator, D–Federal Way

“T. M. Sell has written the consummate book on political life in Washington State. Though the book is based on empirical research and written by an academic, it is also the perfect book for those who are not experts on government but have a desire to be better informed. . . . Sell’s voice is avuncular and reassuring though steeped in knowledge and research. Whether you are a college student, a member of government, or a just curious citizen, you should read this book and become a more knowledgeable and better citizen.”—Jasper M. LiCalzi, professor emeritus of political economy at the College of Idaho and author of Idaho Politics and Government

Table of Contents

Part I. The View from Above
1. Not-So-Mobile Homes: The Story of a Bill
2. Overview: The Playing Field
3. Federalism: States within the State
4. Rules of the Road: The Constitution
Part II. Choosing Leaders, Chasing Policy
5. How We Choose: Elections and Voting
6. Initiatives and Referenda: Government by (Some of) the People
7. Let’s Party! Political Parties in Washington State
8. Interest Groups: The Politics of Power
Part III. State Government: Olympia and Beyond
9. Where It Happens: The Legislature
10. The Gang of Nine: The Executive Branch
11. All Rise: The Courts Are in Session
12. Turning Policy into Practice: State Agencies and What They Do
13. Where It Comes from and Where It Goes: The Budget and Taxes
Part IV. In Your Neighborhood: Local Governments
14. County Government: Regions within the State
15. Cities: Police, Planning, Parks, and Potholes
16. Special Purpose Districts: Services Where You Live
17. Tribal Governments: Nations within the Nation
18. Jobs and Money: Economic Development
Epilogue: The People’s Business

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