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Nelson tapped as lawmaker of the year by Democratic aides

Rep. Sharon Nelson and her legislative aide, Joe Fitzgibbon. - Courtesy photo
Rep. Sharon Nelson and her legislative aide, Joe Fitzgibbon.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) was chosen by the aides of her 62 fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives as the Legislator of the Year, lawmakers announced Thursday.

The award, launched two years ago, was established to recognize outstanding leadership and professionalism among Democrats in the House of Representatives, with voters asked to consider the lawmaker's ability to work across party lines and with people of differing opinions to create good policies.

Nelson, who is serving her second term, was chosen because she "treats everyone with respect," said Kim Moores, legislative aide to Rep. Kathy Haigh and chair of the staff committee that gives the award.

"This award was about all the qualities that add up to being an effective legislator," Moores said. "Sharon Nelson is a shining example of those qualities."

All the staff assembled in the caucus room off the floor of the House to present Nelson with the award Thursday.

"Having our team of 62 Democratic lawmakers and their staff in one room at the same time is amazing," said Rep. Dawn Morrell, caucus chair. "Sharon deserves this award. Everyone who works with her comes away impressed. And they should be."

Each representative has one full-time aide to coordinate communications, research and outreach for his or her district.

"Nobody gets a closer look at lawmakers than we do," said Norma Wallace, legislative aide to Rep. Geoff Simpson and vice-chair of the staff committee. "We see them behind closed doors, at their best and their worst, under tremendous pressure, and Sharon Nelson deserves this honor for her grace and calm. Having served as staff to a public figure herself, I believe Representative Nelson is sensitive to issues Legislative Assistants deal with behind the scenes. The L.A.’s are on the front line for their members in constituent  contact to trust and teamwork is essential."

A plaque saluting Nelson as the 2009 Legislator of the Year will be placed in the  House of Representatives Democratic Caucus room in the Legislative Building in the state capital.

Nelson, the former chief of staff to County Councilman Dow Constantine, went to the Legislature three years ago, when then-Rep. Joe McDermott became a senator to fill retiring lawmaker Erik Poulsen's seat. She was easily elected to her first full term last fall.

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