CHEHALIS – Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler and newly elected State Representative Peter Abbarno give each other an elbow-bump after Abbarno receives the oath of office Wednesday afternoon.  It will become official on Monday when the annual State Legislative session begins in Olympia. That’s when the Centralia attorney and civic advocate becomes the newest member of the State Legislature. Rep. Abbarno (R-Centralia) says he’s in it for a better community, “For my children, making sure our community is the kind of community where they can stay here, graduate, earn a living, raise a family and it’s all about finding solutions.” “I’m going to Olympia as a husband and father, and so I’m looking at issues that are kitchen table issues, quality of life issues”, he said. Abbarno added, “It starts with creating good jobs, securing a quality education for my children and my neighbors’ children and making sure I listen to the needs of the entire community.” Abbarno says he hopes to be effective collaborating with a Democrat controlled legislature. Abbarno succeeds 24 year State House Leader Richard DeBolt who retires from the Legislature on Sunday. Earlier in the day Wednesday, newly appointed Centralia City Councilor Mark Westley was sworn in to fulfill the remaining months on former councilman Abbarno’s position. Born and raised in Centralia, Westley is a longtime educator. He was a 17-year Centralia Middle School teacher, Principal in Ilwaco schools and now teaches 7th and 8th graders at Adna Middle School. Westley sees many opportunities awaiting the City of Centralia, including downtown redevelopment He hopes the City can be an advocate for the upcoming Centralia School District tax levy to support a stronger education for the youth of the community, readying them with skills for the local workforce and thereby attracting new business here.

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