Locke received a B.A. in political science from Yale University in 1972, and a law degree from Boston University in 1975. He worked for several years as a county prosecutor in King County, which includes Seattle. In 1982 Locke was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives, serving as chairman of the Appropriations Committee for five years. In 1993 he was elected King County executive, where he reduced the budget, expanded transit services, and adopted a growth management plan. Locke was elected governor of Washington in 1996 and was reelected in 2000. He focused on educational issues and signed a welfare reform bill reducing the number of recipients by one-third. A Democrat, Locke was the nation's first governor of Chinese ancestry. Locke chose not to run for a third term, citing a desire to spend more time with his family as the reason.