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Originally published May 29, 2013 at 7:06 PM | Page modified May 30, 2013 at 5:49 PM

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Pierce County Republican Sen. Mike Carrell dies at 69

State Sen. Mike Carrell, a Republican from Lakewood and a champion for at-risk youth, died Wednesday from complications of myelodysplastic syndrome. The Pierce County Council will fill the legislative vacancy created by his death next month.

Seattle Times Olympia bureau

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OLYMPIA — Republican Sen. Mike Carrell, of Lakewood, Pierce County, died Wednesday from complications related to his treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome.

Sen. Carrell, 69, was undergoing treatment for the blood disorder, also known as pre-leukemia, with stem-cell transplants and chemotherapy, according to information released by Senate Republicans. He died in his sleep with friends and family nearby.

“Mike Carrell always looked at his time in the Legislature as a way to represent and serve his neighbors, the people of the 28th District,” Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said in a statement. “He fought to improve the safety of our communities and for an efficient and effective criminal-justice system that above all else would focus on compassion for the victim and protection of the community.”

Sen. Carrell, a retired math and science teacher, was first elected to the state House 1994 and moved to the state Senate in 2004. He was chairman of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee this past session.

Schoesler noted that Sen. Carrell sponsored the “Becca” laws, which help identify at-risk youth who skip school so they can be given assistance, as well as anti-sex trafficking laws aimed at protecting victims and giving law enforcement more tools to apprehend and prosecute traffickers, among other measures.

Sen. Carrell missed the final weeks of the regular legislative session earlier this year and the current special session, which started May 13, so he could undergo treatment.

Republicans took control of the state Senate on Jan. 14 of this year when Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom, of Medina, and Tim Sheldon, of Potlatch, crossed party lines to caucus with the GOP. The move gave Republicans a narrow 25 to 24 vote majority.

The 28th Legislative District is fully within Pierce County’s borders, so the county Republican party can submit three names to the county council, which then would vote to appoint someone to fill Sen. Carrell’s seat. That person would stand for election next year and serve the remainder of the term that ends in 2016. It was not immediately clear how long it might take to fill his seat.

State Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur said he hopes to get names of possible appointees to the county council by next Tuesday.

“I think Mike would want someone in there as quickly as possible,” Wilbur said. “He’d say I want somebody in there voting for the district as soon as possible.”

Pierce County Councilmember Joyce McDonald, the council chair, said the council will want to interview the candidates before voting. A decision could happen on June 11, she said. That is also the last day of the legislative session.

Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, in a statement, called Sen. Carrell “an excellent public servant. Respectfully, our thoughts are with Mike’s family and not on any implications his passing may have on the Senate. Today the Senate lost one of its own. Mike Carrell will be missed.”

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said Sen. Carrell “was a committed public servant who worked hard for the less fortunate among us. He will be missed by his constituents, fellow lawmakers and everyone who has worked with him over his long career.”

In addition to his wife, Charlotte, Sen. Carrell is survived by three sons, Matthew, Larry and Carlton, and five grandchildren.

Andrew Garber: 360-236-8268 or agarber@seattletimes.com

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