Mike is a 42-year resident of the 4th District, the Spokane Valley – same house, same neighborhood. His wife, Laura was Spokane born and raised and a Valley resident since the age of two. Together, they have been honored to live, work, and raise a family in this wonderful community. During those years, Mike has developed an understanding of the concerns, interests and needs of this area because he and his family share those same issues.
Mike was first elected to the State Legislature in 1980 and was re-elected by the 4th District voters for seven more terms. Mike served as citizen legislator in Olympia for 14+ years. During that time Mike held many different leadership roles including Majority Floor Leader and Chairman of the House Law and Justice Committee.
Mike earned the reputation of standing strong on principle – no higher taxes, smaller government, and defender of life. Still, Mike is willing to engage the process and is successful in forging coalitions to pass legislation even when in the minority.
When not in session, Mike is home in the Valley with his wife Laura helping to raise their five boys and working as a partner in the law firm of Tanksley, Richard, Padden and Derr.
Mike was appointed District Court Judge in March 1995. He was subsequently elected county-wide for three additional terms. His willingness to listen and work with both sides served him well in District Court where he was twice elected by his peers to be Presiding Judge of District Court managing a budget of approximately $7.8 million and a staff of 150 employees. Mike retired in January 2007.
In “retirement” Mike worked part-time as Judicial Outreach Liaison for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) covering Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Alaska. His job was to promote traffic safety and continue what he started in District Court – helping different jurisdictions set up and improve DUI courts which have been very effective in breaking the cycle of repeat offenders and helping people commit to changing their lives and reducing the number of innocent victims.
Mike has also been active in the community acting as a State Commissioner for American Legion Baseball and is a Past President of the Spokane chapter. For over eight years, he helped organize summer leagues involving approximately 650 young men a season, ages 13-19. Working with American Legion reminds Mike daily of the hopes, aspirations, enthusiasm and zest of our young people and the dedication of coaches who mentor them and the organization that supports them.
For the last 10 plus years, Mike has been a substitute driver for Greater Spokane Meals on Wheels. Making these deliveries has been a humbling and heart-warming but also heart wrenching experience for Mike as he visits with the elderly and those vulnerable in our society. Their life stories and courage are an inspiration.
Mike is active in his church currently serving on the parish council and is a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus. Mike is also a member of American Legion Post 241 in the Spokane Valley.