Rep. JT Wilcox is pictured on the House of Representatives floor during the 2018 legislative session. Wilcox, a republican from Harts Lake, was elected by his caucus to be the Minority Leader in the House.

From small town boy to legislative leader, Rep. JT Wilcox, R-Yelm, brings his local roots to the most influential position within the Washington state House of Republicans.

Wilcox was elected to be the next Republican leader on the last day of the 2018 legislative session following Rep. Dan Kristiansen’s retirement last Tuesday. Kristiansen, a Republican from Snohomish, stepped down as Minority Leader, a position he held since 2013 and announced he would not seek re-election in November. 

“It’s time to go home. It’s time to get reacquainted with my family, spend more time with them,” Kristiansen said. “I’m still young enough to do that. I’m healthy and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Wilcox was elected into office in 2010 over Rep. Tom Campbell R-Roy, a 16-year incumbent. Wilcox then served as Floor Leader and sat on the House Appropriations, Finance and Rules committees. He serves the 2nd Legislative District covering parts of Pierce and Thurston counties.

“I love this caucus. These are the greatest people I’ve ever worked with,” Wilcox said. “To be elected Leader by my peers is an honor. I feel like I’ve got a big job to do.” 

The local representative enters the leadership role at a vital time for Washington Republicans. Democrats currently have the majority 50-48 but all House seats are up for election in November, meaning Republicans are a few candidates away from holding the majority. 

Wilcox was already involved in elections being the lead of the House Republican Organization Committee and recruited two Republican representatives — Melanie Stambaugh and Paul Graves.

“I continue to believe we have the biggest tent when it comes to ideology and points of view at the Capitol,” Wilcox said. “I think this is a major reason why we’ve been so successful in a blue state — including this legislative session.”

Wilcox said he is focused on strengthening the economy and to rebuild the sense of community around the state.

“Families are the building block of our society,” he said. “Economic success is important, but rebuilding community in the sense of attachment that people have, I think … should be the top priority of everybody in our society, because we’ve lost a lot.”

Wilcox grew up on his family farm near Harts Lake in Pierce County where he still lives with his wife Kathy who teaches at Fort Stevens Elementary in Yelm. Before taking his seat in the House, Wilcox graduated from Washington State University and served as Chief Operating Officer and then Chief Financial Officer of Wilcox Farms. 

Wilcox currently runs his own consulting firm, and works with his daughter Katie at her furniture company, Harts Lake Pioneer Lumber. 

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