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Gary Locke

Gov. Gary Locke

  • January 15, 1997 - January 12, 2005
  • Democratic
  • January 21, 1950
  • Washington
  • Married Mona Lee; two children
  • Ambassador, Cabinet secretary


GARY LOCKE was born into an immigrant family and spent his first six years in Seattle’s Yesler Terrace, a public housing project for families of World War II veterans. He worked in his father’s grocery store, became an Eagle Scout, and graduated with honors from Seattle’s Franklin High School in 1968. Through a combination of part-time jobs, financial aid, and scholarships, Locke attended Yale University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1972. After earning a law degree from Boston University in 1975, he worked for several years as a deputy prosecutor in King County, prosecuting people for crimes such as robbery and murder. In 1982 Locke was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives, where he served on the House Judiciary and Appropriations Committees, in his final five years as chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Locke was elected chief executive of King County in 1993 and took on all of the challenges facing Washington’s most complex urban area. He was elected to his first term as governor in 1996 – the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history. On November 7, 2000, he was reelected to his second term. As governor, he worked to make Washington a better place to live, work, and raise a family by making the state’s schools among the best in the nation; strengthening the state’s economy with an efficient, effective transportation system and business climate; and making state government more accessible and user-friendly while ensuring its delivery of needs at a reasonable and sustainable cost. On May 1, 2009, Locke was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Commerce. He later served as the U.S. Ambassador to China from August 2011 through February 2014.


Official Records at Washington State Archives, 1997-2005, 1123 cubic feet.

List of finding aids for Washington State governors available at the Northwest Digital Archives.

Washington Secretary of State

Washington State Library: Governors of Washington State

Who’s Who in American Politics: 2003-2004, 19th Ed., Vol. 2.  New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who’s Who. 2 vols.

Recent Washington Governors