OLYMPIA — Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib announced on March 19 that he will not seek re-election, and will instead join the Jesuits, a religious order of the Catholic Church known formally as the Society of Jesus.
“This decision follows two years of careful and prayerful discernment. But since that process has been almost entirely private, I realize that this will come as a major surprise to my constituents and supporters,” Habib said in a statement.
Gov. Jay Inslee said that while the news was unexpected, “anyone who knows Cyrus is not surprised by his commitment to faith. I have no doubt his future in the Jesuit priesthood will bring much good to a world that needs it right now.”
The son of Iranian immigrants, Habib is the first and only Iranian American elected to statewide office in the country. A three-time cancer-survivor, he became fully blind at the age of 8, and went on to graduate from Columbia University, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and Yale Law School, where he was Editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Habib said, “I was moved to public service by my experience growing up as a blind kid from an Iranian family, and learning firsthand what it feels like to be excluded.”
Over the past couple of years, Habib said he has felt called to a different vocation.
“I’ve felt a calling to dedicate my life in a more direct and personal way to serving the marginalized, empowering the vulnerable, healing those suffering from spiritual wounds, and accompanying those discerning their own futures. In short, I’ve come to believe that the best way to deepen my commitment to social justice is to reduce the complexity in my own life and dedicate it to serving others.”
Calling Habib’s life and career “an inspiration to many,” Inslee said Habib has had a meteoric career in elected public service. That career includes serving as a State Representative and as a State Senator before being elected Lt. Governor in 2016. As a state legislator, Habib was the sponsor of a bill to establish statewide paid sick leave, as well as the Washington Voting Rights Act to make Washington’s elections more equitable.
Habib has led nine international trade missions to promote investment and job growth in Washington state, which, with 40% of its job market dependent on international trade, has the most trade-driven economy in the country.
Habib’s decision means at least one of our state’s nine statewide elected positions will be an open seat in the August primary and November general elections.
“Trudi and I wish Cyrus all the best as his life of public service now turns to a new stage that will be impactful to many,” said Inslee.