Did Gov.-elect Inslee snub Snohomish County?

Around these parts, Jay Inslee’s got some explaining to do.

Of the 37 people he’s chosen to help fill the seats of power in his administration, not one hails from Snohomish County.

While most of the state’s 6.7 million people didn’t notice, allies of the incoming Democratic governor did.

They’re feeling like Inslee snubbed Snohomish County by not selecting a single one of its business, labor, social, civic or elected leaders for the transition team advising him in the run-up to his taking office next month.

Their disappointment arises from a mix of reasons.

Snohomish County is the third largest county in the state and home to roughly 10 percent of Washington’s population. Its profile, from its economy to its demography to the range of issues bugging residents, is reflective of the state as a whole.

They point out Inslee is no stranger to the county. He represented residents of south Snohomish County in Congress for a decade, along the way casting votes to aid Boeing’s pursuit of the air tanker, create the Wild Sky Wilderness and improve travel on the I-5 corridor and throughout the Puget Sound on state ferries.

And in this election, they note, voters in Snohomish County favored Inslee over his Republican rival, Rob McKenna. It was one of only eight counties to back the incoming governor, a success achieved in part because of the fund-raising and door-knocking of some of the slightly piqued allies.

Sterling Clifford, Inslee’s spokesman, said the governor-elect sought people with expertise in specific fields and experience in public and private sector. Geographic diversity was a factor and political accommodation was not, he said.

Those on Inslee’s transition team are well-versed in industries and issues of importance to the county.

There are leaders of the Machinists union from Seattle and Aerospace Futures Alliance from Spokane on it. So, too, are power players from the arenas of higher education, biotechnology, and environmental protection. And he’s got executives of unions representing state workers, teachers, health care workers and firefighters — all of whom coincidentally backed his election.

Nonetheless, there is still a sense of miff among some of Snohomish County’s political class that no one from the county, Democrat or Republican, made the cut.

They wonder aloud why the mayor of Tacoma is on it but not the mayor of Everett or the former Snohomish County executive. Or why officials of two Seattle business groups are assisting but not one from Snohomish County.

Or instead of selecting the head honcho of ginormous Puget Sound Energy, why not pluck someone from the Snohomish County Public Utility District which helped topple Enron and is producing energy from renewable resources?

Inslee had options. He made choices. He can’t erase the impressions left by those decisions. Those may quickly disappear if Inslee brings a prominent Snohomish County figure into his administration — which could happen if you believe any of the rumors swirling around Olympia these days.

For example, Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, a former state lawmaker and one of the county’s most popular elected officials, is said to be in the mix to lead the Washington State Patrol should that cabinet-level job come open. Inslee’s representatives say that appointment hasn’t even been discussed.

If it does happen, well, Inslee’s Snohomish County friends might not feel so bad after all.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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