For Senator Jeff Holy, life is a grand adventure. At an age when most of his peers are entering or considering retirement, Senator Holy is in many ways just getting started.
He is currently serving in his first term as a member of the Washington State Senate for the 6th legislative district. A Republican, he previously served as a member of the Washington House of Representatives.
How did he get here? He reflects on his life experiences to date with a sense of awe. “I am continually asking God for direction and to help me better understand my purpose. I want to follow God’s plan for me.” A lifelong Catholic, Senator Holy attended St. Anthony elementary school in Renton, followed by a year at St. Edward seminary. After realizing a vocation as a priest wasn’t his calling, he spent his sophomore year as a Lancer, eventually moving to Issaquah with his family.
After graduating high school, he served three years in the Army and then earned his bachelor’s degree at Washington State University. After graduation, Jeff began a 22-year career with the Spokane police department as an officer and detective. During this time, he attended Gonzaga University School of Law where he earned his Juris Doctorate and was admitted to the Washington State Bar. Fresh from his undergraduate work, he applied for a position at the Spokane police department in the fall of 1984. He was accepted to law school at Gonzaga University in the spring and then worked the police graveyard patrol in order to pay for it. After four years of law school, he passed the bar exam in 1990.
His experience as an attorney and a police officer was a unique combination and he was soon promoted to detective. He attended the Department of Justice electronic surveillance school and was assigned to a small undercover unit. As a detective, he would embed himself into a group of criminals and then provide the intelligence needed to secure arrests. He later served in sex crimes and property crimes. In 2006, he retired from his job as detective and began practicing law at a criminal defense firm. It was an eye-opening change being on the other side of the courtroom.
He served as an executive for the police union as part of the Spokane Police Guild and as a delegate to the State Association of Washington Council for Police and Sheriffs. It was through this work he became familiar with Olympia and spent time experiencing the legislative session. He also came to know and develop relationships with state senators and representatives as he did work on behalf of public safety issues. His criminal defense law work evolved into a government affairs practice and he was registered as a lobbyist. In 2012, he had the opportunity to travel to South Africa. Upon his return, he recognized his life circumstances offered him the chance to do something new – to be of service in a new capacity. As he prayed on this and the future, he received a phone call from another State representative encouraging him to consider running for a House seat. After an offer by a Republican management firm to manage his campaign, he made the leap.
Today, Jeff serves as the ranking member on the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, and Law and Justice Committee. His top priority is economic growth, especially for the Spokane area. He believes the Inland Northwest has enormous potential with its current and growing agriculture and manufacturing sectors combined with possibilities for infrastructure. Jeff sees more jobs as the answer to the poverty seen all too often in the Inland Northwest.
Looking back on his time as a Lancer, he says the school felt like home. His friends were important, and he recognizes how fortunate he was to have a solid Catholic education foundation. For high school students interested in politics, he suggests applying to serve as a Legislative page. In his opinion, the ideology or political party is irrelevant – being involved and active is most important. Care about what is happening and get engaged. We can either do great good in the world, or if we are not paying attention, great damage. Even he sometimes struggles to avoid the noise of politics – and stay focused on what can be accomplished in the time he has to influence change. It is his biggest challenge, but also motivates him – to get past the noise and focus on what’s important. At the same time, honoring what God’s plan is for him. He firmly believes if you stop and take the time to listen to the voice of God, doors will naturally be opened for you. ◆