Kretz again elected Deputy Leader as state Legislature begins in-person session

With his black cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and bolo tie, Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, strides through the marbled halls of Olympia looking more like a character from the hit TV series Yellowstone than a seasoned lawmaker.

But don’t let the looks fool you.

Kretz is known in Olympia for his unique brand of humor, work ethic, and unrelenting political wrangling as he works on behalf of his constituents. He knows the ins and outs of the political and governmental maneuvering at the state Capitol better than most.

His candor, honesty, and the trust his colleagues have in him were on full display as he was once again elected to be the House Republican Caucus Deputy Leader, a position he has held for over a decade.

“As long as my colleagues want me in this leadership position, I’ll continue to serve them and my constituents in this way,” said Kretz. “It’s a lot of work but I think that’s something the 7th District is historically known for. The people I represent back home are not afraid of hard work, and they’re not afraid to help out a neighbor in need. Much of my job as Deputy Leader is to help others be the best legislators and staff they can be as we all serve our constituents.”

Officially, the Deputy Leader assists the Leader in setting legislative priorities, organizing caucus strategy, and working toward the adoption of bills supported by a majority of the caucus.

Unofficially, however, the role can sometimes include a little ‘old West’ law enforcement.

“Look, every job or career is going to have internal politics,” said Kretz. “Maybe the ‘internal politics’ of governing and politics is just a little more intense? All of us have our own opinions, priorities, principles, and values. And we all have varying constituencies to consider. And we all end up working very closely together, with long hours, little sleep, and under some measure of tension and stress. My job is to help all of our members navigate those waters while keeping our eyes on the goal: making our state the best state in the nation to live, work, raise a family, and retire.”

Kretz said his leadership position helps his constituents because he is at the table when major policy issues are being discussed. It also allows him to work across the aisle with those in the majority party. The relationships he’s built over the years have been instrumental in getting more resources for wildfire management and broadband internet access for rural areas.

“It is possible to stick to your core principles and beliefs – and those of the people you represent – and still get things done,” said Kretz. “Legislating isn’t about who yells the loudest or makes the biggest fuss. It’s about who can problem solve, recognize the strengths and weakness of the situation, as well as the individuals involved, and committing to working the problem rather than seeking the headlines and the glory.”

Kretz recalled a time during last session’s state budget debate where he made a few phone calls at the last minute to secure a budget proviso directing funds to assist low income, underserved rural residents access to low orbit satellite internet broadband.

“Being in a leadership position and building relationships with as many lawmakers as possible is what makes an effective legislator,” said Kretz. “The fact is, I’m in the minority party in Olympia. I need to work with as many people as possible to get things done for my folks back home.”

Kretz said he will once again serve on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee where his experience as a rancher gives him valuable insight as the House debates legislation that could impact farmers, ranchers, and orchardists around the state.

He will also sit on the House Rules Committee where he advocates for certain legislation to be heard on the House floor.

The 105-day 2023 legislative session began Monday, January 9.


Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, meets with Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, in Olympia to discuss wildfire funding (Photo Credit: Washington State House of Representatives)


Washington State House Republican Communications