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Joseph Zarelli
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 18th district
In office
December 7, 1995 (1995-12-07) – May 31, 2012 (2012-05-31)
Preceded by Hal Palmer
Succeeded by Ann Rivers
Personal details
Born Joseph P. Zarelli
(1961-10-07) October 7, 1961 (age 53)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Tani Zarelli
Residence Ridgefield, Washington
Alma mater Clark College (A.A.)
Profession Business president
Religion Christian
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy (alternate).svg United States Navy
Years of service 1982 – 1989 (7 years)

Joseph P. "Joe" Zarelli (born October 7, 1961) is an American former politician of the Republican Party. He was a member of the Washington State Senate representing Washington's 18th legislative district from 1995 to 2012.

Political career[edit]

After serving as a top Senate Republican for several years, Zarelli announced his retirement at the end of his current term on May 19, 2012 [1]

Jaime Herrera was an intern in Zarelli's office and he was a major supporter of her rise in politics.[2]

Personal information[edit]

According to his official Legislative biography, Senator Zarelli owns a company specializing in business development and risk management services. He has an Associate's degree from Clark College. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1982 to 1989. Joe and his wife Tani, have four daughters and two grandchildren.[3] The couple filed petitions for divorce and for legal separation in November 2013. [4]

Political controversies[edit]

Zarelli was briefly dogged by controversy in 2002 when the Seattle Times reported on the fact that he collected unemployment while simultaneously serving in the State Legislature.[5] This was seen as especially embarrassing because Zarelli had a well-established political identity as a fiscal conservative firmly opposed to state services of all kinds. Zarelli defended himself by arguing that the State Employment Security Department had found him to be eligible for benefits, and there were never any allegations of unsavory dealings behind the awarding of benefits. The controversy soon passed.


  1. ^ "Zarelli will be leaving state Senate". The Columbian. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Jaime Herrera: Staying ‘true to the principles’". The Columbian. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Senate Republicans Washington
  4. ^ http://www.columbian.com/news/2013/nov/29/births-marriage-applications-licenses-court-senten/
  5. ^ "Sen. Zarelli collected unemployment while earning salary". The Seattle Times. 25 September 2002. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 

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22 news items

The Columbian
Tue, 29 May 2012 13:41:03 -0700

Joseph Zarelli said he will resign on Thursday rather than serve the remainder of his term. Shortly after 5 p.m. May 18, the final day of candidate filing week, the senator said he would not seek re-election to his 18th District job. Zarelli's ...
Sat, 30 Jun 2012 07:01:15 -0700

She will continue to represent the 18th Legislative District, which includes parts of Cowlitz and Clark counties, including Ridgefield, Battleground, La Center and Camas. She is finishing the term of state Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, who ...

The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times
Tue, 04 Nov 2014 21:15:00 -0800

Lisa Brown of Spokane and Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli of Ridgefield worked together to send voters SJR 8206 to require a three-fifths vote of the Legislature to spend money from the Budget Stabilization Account. Voters approved the measure in 2007.
Longview Daily News
Thu, 24 May 2012 23:49:21 -0700

Joe Zarelli — seen Wednesday in his office at his home in Ridgefield — decided not to seek re-election to the state Senate this year. 2012-05-24T23:28:00Z 2012-06-25T16:51:13Z Retiring state Sen. Joe Zarelli reflects on 17 years in LegislatureBy ...
CBS Local
Mon, 25 Jun 2012 16:48:45 -0700

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — County commissioners have appointed Republican Rep. Ann Rivers to fill an empty state Senate seat. Rivers was sworn in Monday to replace Sen. Joseph Zarelli, who resigned from the 18th District seat on March 31. Rivers is also ...
The Columbian
Mon, 28 May 2012 18:01:56 -0700

Joseph Zarelli's surprise decision to step down has shaken up the political landscape of the 18th Legislative District, which will be devoid of any incumbents this election season. Ralph Schmidt, the Democrat who thought he would face incumbent Zarelli ...
The Reflector
Wed, 18 Jun 2014 09:06:23 -0700

Not only did the 1995 Washington State Football Championship give Ridgefield bragging rights, it secured them Senate Resolution 1996-8674, signed into the history books by Senators Joseph Zarelli and Dean Sutherland. As evidenced by the large turnout ...
Thu, 05 Apr 2012 14:07:06 -0700

Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli gets $601 a month from the federal government, indicating that he is considered 40 percent disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to records obtained by The Associated Press under public records law.

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