Decision on 21st Dist. seat delayed

County Council holds off filling Radcliff’s spot in Olympia


Herald Writer

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council decided Monday to let the suspense linger through the night for three political hopefuls.

Joe Marine, Stan Monlux and Jeannette Wood interviewed with the five council members Monday for Rep. Renee Radcliff’s spot in the state Legislature. After winning re-election last month, the Mukilteo Republican decided to retire for personal reasons.

Republican precinct committee officers from the 21st Legislative District picked three GOP candidates to replace her, and now the final choice is up to the council. That provision is in the state constitution to make sure the appointment is made by an elected body that is directly responsible to voters.

Chairwoman Barbara Cothern had expected council members to have a decision by noon, but when the meeting lasted until 11:50 a.m., she and other members agreed they needed more time. She said she had e-mail and phone messages from the public that she wanted to look at first.

The council has 60 days from the date of Radcliff’s resignation to decide. If it can’t come to agreement in that time, the governor then has 30 days to choose someone.

But that lengthy timeline isn’t likely.

The members are scheduled to meet in executive session at 10:30 this morning, and they may announce their decision afterward.

The three candidates showed very different styles, backgrounds and hopes for the future as they answered about 15 questions council members asked each of them in separate interviews.

Marine was the precinct committee officers’ top choice. As the 21st District chairman, he was well known among them. But by the same token, Wood is a renowned political figure in the district from 10 years representing it in the Legislature, and Monlux put up a good fight this year against incumbent state Rep. Mike Cooper, D-Edmonds.

Marine, 38, spoke quietly in his interview, saying his experience as a Mukilteo city councilman would serve local governments well in Olympia. He appeared to have a more grass-roots and conservative philosophy than the other two and was the only candidate who supported Initiative 695.

The measure, which voters passed last year, eliminated the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax and required voter approval for all future tax and fee increases, something Marine said "didn’t scare" him as much as it did others.

"I’ve always felt government closest to the people is best," Marine said.

Monlux, the precinct committee officers’ second choice, was polished and energetic.

He made an immediate appeal to both sides of the aisle: right after revealing that he had graduated from Washington State University, he made sure to mention that his uncle, Earl Monlux, was a captain on the University of Washington’s football team in the early ’50s.

Monlux, 36, had obviously beefed up on legislative issues during his campaign and provided detailed answers to every question. He’s a software executive who’s worked with politicians on various boards but has never held a public office.

"Being green is my biggest weakness," Monlux said in response to a question. "I’d like to think that I don’t have any baggage, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be picked as chair this year."

That’s probably not a problem Wood, the precinct committee officers’ third choice, would encounter if she were to be returned to the Legislature. Her biggest selling point, she said, is that she wouldn’t have the learning curve the other two would face. She’s only been out of Olympia for two years and still knows many of the other lawmakers.

"If they give me a desk, I can go to work," she said.

Monlux appeared to be the most well versed in current issues, such as initiatives and the Blue Ribbon Commission’s report on transportation solutions.

All three stressed goals of bipartisanship.

"It’s amazing what we could accomplish if we didn’t care who got the credit," Marine said.

Monlux added, "No party has a monopoly on good ideas."

And Wood said one of her weaknesses was that she often got along better with Democrats than with members of her own party, which was an irritant to some Republicans.

Frauna Hoglund, the county’s new Republican chairwoman, sat through the three interviews and said she thought they’d all done an "excellent" job.

"Whoever gets it is going to have a big job to do, because they have to get down there right away and learn, and then they also have to campaign," she said.

The appointed representative will have to stand for election in the fall of 2001, and it will be a campaign watched closely across the state. Democratic opponents are already lining up to run, and if one of them can snatch the spot away, it will give that party a one-seat majority in the House, which is split evenly right now. Then Democrats would control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion.

"So we’ll be working the 21st District as soon as possible," Hoglund said, "and I’ll be behind whoever they choose."

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