OLYMPIA, Wa. -- Gov. Gary Locke, nationally regarded as a leader in the advancement of digital government, announced that he will not seek a third term as governor of Washington.

"After much thought and careful deliberation with my family, I have decided not to seek a third term as governor of Washington State." The Governor said in a statement. "Despite my deep love of our state, I want to devote more time to Mona, Emily and Dylan. As profoundly important as it is to be your governor, it is just as important to me to be a good husband and father.

"It is a great honor to serve the people of Washington as governor. I am proud of our strong record of accomplishments since taking office. I appreciate the faith and confidence the people of Washington have had in me. To the people of Washington, Mona and I say thank you."

Locke took office in 1996 after a successful career in public service as a prosecutor, a state representative and three years a chief executive of King County. He rose from modest beginnings as the son of immigrants and spent much of his childhood in a public housing project and working in his father's grocery store. Locke was the first Chinese-American governor in the nation.

"Serving as governor has been very rewarding, challenging, and personally enriching. Apart from my family, it has been the greatest experience of my life," Locke added in his announcement. "I will continue to work hard and intensify our efforts on our state's top priorities of government for the remainder of my term, focusing especially on education, jobs, health care, competitiveness and the environment.

In a 2001 interview with GT writer Shane Peterson, Locke said that when he first came to office, his staff "didn't even have self-correcting typewriters." Under his leadership, Washington eventually became the state for other states to emulate in the digital government arena -- particularly in the successful engagement of its agencies.

"It is a delicate balance trying to provide a common format or template for our agencies to work with," he said in the interview, "while, at the same time, not [stifling] creativity among the departments; using the Department of Information Services as a key, common consultant that gives agencies technical advice; and using the expertise and creativity in the DIS to try to design that foundation."

Locke empowered state CIO's to make sweeping, enterprise-wide changes and was widely recognized for his leadership. Among other honors, Washington State won the Digital States Award for three consecutive years and recently garnered the Sustained Leadership Award for five years of exemplary performance. The Center for Digital Government sponsors both programs.