Senator Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas, resigns from his position amid allegations of sexual harassment | Update

Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker in 2015.

Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker in 2015.

State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas, has resigned from his position effective immediately.

His Jan. 11 announcement came after an investigation into sexual harassment allegations from a former employee and news of a serious family illness.

“What matters most is that the critical policies I have been working on advance – not that I advance them,” Ranker stated to the Journal.

In late December, an Associated Press journalist reported that Ranker is being investigated by the state for improper conduct after Ann Larson, a state employee, made allegations of sexual harassment. According to a story published in The Seattle Times, Larson met Ranker while she was a clerk for the San Juan County Council and he was a county councilman (then called a commissioner). He was elected to that seat – his first political position – in 2004.

Larson said she had a consensual sexual relationship with Ranker but once she started to work in his Senate district office in 2009, she wanted only a professional one. After she rejected his advances, she said Ranker became hostile and she eventually left the position, according to the AP story.

Ranker wrote in a Jan. 12 press release, “I am deeply sorry for any stress I caused her, and I sincerely apologize. I wish her peace.”

Ranker’s father was recently diagnosed with cancer and is currently in a hospital in New York.

He wrote that he needs to both support his dad and help maintain the business that his father owns.

“The combined distraction of these two events makes it impossible for me to continue representing each of you effectively,” wrote Ranker.

According to a statement released by Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, the process to select Ranker’s successor will begin as soon as possible. A meeting of the 40th Legislative District Democrats will be held to nominate three names for consideration by the county legislative authorities within that district. Those authorities shall then choose a person to fill out the term. If they cannot agree to an appointment within 60 days, Gov. Jay Inslee will appoint a person from the list within 30 days.

“Because this remains an ongoing investigation, I will wait to comment further until I have had the opportunity to read the investigator’s completed report on the allegations against Sen. Ranker,” wrote Billig. “The Senate remains committed to creating and fostering a safe, inclusive workplace for everyone.”

Ranker was elected to the state senate in 2008 and has nearly completed his third term. Ranker wrote that he was thankful for his supporters and proud of the strides they had made during his 10 years as a senator.

“You have empowered and inspired me, and I am forever thankful,” he said.

Ranker lives on Orcas with his wife and daughter.