By Noah Haglund Herald Writer
EVERETT — Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick announced Monday that he wants to be appointed as the county executive, a job Aaron Reardon last week said he plans to vacate on May 31.
Lovick, a Democrat who has served as sheriff since 2008, said he wants the position for the long term, not just as a caretaker who fills the seat until the next election.
“A lot of things have happened in the past year and a half in county government, and we need some healing in that respect,” Lovick said.
Because Reardon is a Democrat, state law says it’s up to the county Democratic Party to pick three candidates to replace him. The party must forward the names to the County Council. If the council is unable to make a choice after the job has been vacant for 60 days, the decision will go to Gov. Jay Inslee.
So far, Lovick’s the easy front-runner.
“I think that John can really bring the county together, and that’s what we need right now,” County Councilman Dave Gossett said. “We need some healing and as calm a transition as possible.”
More announcements are expected soon, said Richard Wright, chairman of the Snohomish County Democrats.
An official resignation letter from Reardon will initiate the process, but that had not happened as of Monday.
Because Reardon’s planned resignation date comes after May 17, when the official candidate filing period ends, the appointment would last until a special election can be held, in 2014. There would be another election in 2015 for a full four-year term.
Lovick, 61, lives in Mill Creek.
As county sheriff, he oversees more than 700 employees, including law enforcement deputies and jail staff.
Lovick’s professional career includes more than 30 years as a Washington state trooper, plus 13 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, on active and reserve duty.
Lovick also has almost two decades of experience in elected office.
Lovick said he’s not yet sure who might be interested in the sheriff’s job, but that there are solid internal candidates in his administration.
Before winning his first term as sheriff in November 2007, Lovick represented Washington’s 44th Legislative District in the House for nine years. He served on the Mill Creek City Council for five years in the 1990s, including a year as mayor pro tem.
Lovick and Reardon’s tenure in the Legislature overlapped for several years, and the sheriff said the two worked well together on crafting laws.
Despite the lapses at the county under Reardon’s watch, Lovick said he always appreciated Reardon’s focus on trying to create jobs. Lovick also praised Reardon’s decision in 2010 to appoint Gary Haakenson as deputy executive.
The sheriff’s office stayed clear last year during the state patrol’s criminal investigation of Reardon’s spending during county business trips, Lovick said. Island County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Banks decided against filing charges in the case.
Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe had asked the patrol to investigate and for the outside prosecutor to decide whether charges were warranted.
Roe earlier this month called for a new criminal investigation that would focus, in part, on records requests that targeted nearly 20 people on the county payroll who cooperated with the patrol’s investigation.
“Mark Roe has never talked to me” about those cases, Lovick said. “He realized, as I realized, that it would have been a big conflict of interest if the sheriff’s office had been involved.”
Lovick said he spent this past weekend on the phone, making about 300 calls to Democratic precinct leaders and party leaders in each of the county’s legislative districts. He was confident he has “a lot of support.”
State Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, also has shown interest in the post. So has County Councilman Dave Somers, D-Monroe. Reardon’s friend state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, is also interested. His former staffer and brother-in-law are the two Reardon staffers at the root of the executive’s latest trouble, which led to his decision to resign.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, firstname.lastname@example.org.