Former Democratic Senator Majority Leader Sid Snyder died Sunday at his home in Long Beach. He was 86.
Former state senator Mark Doumit, D-Wahkiakum, represented the 19th Legislative District after Snyder’s retirement in 2002.
“He was a fine man. He’s kind of one of a kind because he’s a great example of how people should treat each other, both in the political process and out of the political process,” Doumit said. “He was the kind of person who could meet with the president of United States or the CEO of a company and treat them with the same respect he would give a logger or a fisherman or someone who needed help. I admired him a great deal, he was certainly one of the people I looked up to in life. He set a great example.”
Snyder worked his way up in the Capitol, literally from the ground floor — he started work there as a part-time elevator operator in 1949. He moved up to become Secretary of the Senate in 1969, a partisan post he was given by the Democrats and remarkably kept through one Republican majority.
After the death of his friend, Sen. Arlie DeJarnatt of Longview in 1990, several Democrats asked Snyder to run for his seat. He agreed and won, serving 12 years in the Senate. He once resigned during a heated debate in which he felt the rules of chamber were being ignored.
He and his wife Bette have owned Sid’s Market on the Long Beach for more than 50 years.
He was known for his dedication to his constituents and for reaching across the aisle to get things done.
“Sid was a master at the art of negotiation. He negotiated across the aisle all the time, and had a great deal of respect for the institution itself,” Doumit said. “His example is the kind of example we need across the country. There aren’t enough people in the process anymore that really know how to work the art of negotiation. … We’ve got a lot of serious problems to deal with, and no one party has all the answers.”
State Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, now holds the 19th District Legislative District senate seat and has known Snyder since he was a little boy.
”It’s tough to say anything that already hasn’t been said or written about Sid,” Hatfield said. “Just turn on the TV, during this crazy, homestretch of the campaign season, and it becomes obvious how much we need people like Sid. Keep Bette and the rest of the family in your thoughts and prayers. Sine die my good friend.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire issued a statement this morning on Snyder’s passing.
“Washington state government has lost one of its giants. Sid was unique and irreplaceable. Over the course of five decades, literally rising from his start as an elevator operator in the state Capitol, Sid set the standard for public service. He was humble, dedicated, a doer, world-class story teller and, above all, a family man. Sid was legendary for getting things done and for his never-failing courtesy and civility. He represented his district and the people of our state with principle, dignity and modesty. They just don’t come any finer than Sid Snyder.”
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray called Snyder an “amazing leader with a heart of gold.”
“He was kind and gracious, and because he had the respect of everyone that knew him, he was able to bring people together to solve problems for the people of our state,” Murray said. “He will be missed by the countless people who had the privilege of working with him and of calling him a friend. My thoughts and prayers are with Bette and his family right now.”
Former Daily World writer Jeff Burlingame is in the midst of writing a book about Snyder’s life.