Navy Spouse Serves as State Senator While Husband is on Reserve Training


By Debbie Gregory.

The wife of State Senator John Braun has probably pulled a lot of double duty as a military spouse during the course of her marriage. But now, Marlo Braun has taken this to a whole new level: she was sworn in as a temporary senator in order to fill in for the Centralia Republican while he’s participating in required military training with the Navy Reserve.

Marlo took the oath of office on July 18th after John invoked a rarely-used law that allows for a district fill-in if a representative is called up to active service or training.

John will serve as the commanding officer of a Navy Reserve detachment based out of U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith in Hawaii.

The move received majority approval by county officials in District 20.  John wanted a fill-in so his district didn’t go unrepresented during the final days of the third special session. Lawmakers are still working to try and reach a deal on both a two-year capital budget and a water rights bill before they adjourn.

John’s first choice to fill in for him was former lawmaker J. Vander Stoep, but when he was unavailable, John’s next choice was his wife.

Marlo, a registered nurse at Providence Hospital in Centralia, was sworn in by Lewis County District Court Judge Wade Samuelson on the Senate floor. Marlo said that serving in the Senate was never a job she intended to hold, but one she will be happy to do until John can take back the reins.

The fill-in spot is a short-term assignment.

This is not the first time a military spouse has served under this state provision. In 1990, Sen. Mike Kreidler’s wife Lela held his seat while he served on reserve duty during Operation Desert Storm.

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