Eight vie for county vacancy

By JIM HALEY

Herald Writer

At least eight people have lined up to seek the job that will be vacated next month by Congress-bound Rick Larsen on the Snohomish County Council.

But the prospective replacements will have to go through the county Democratic Party in order to have a chance of appointment by the remaining council members.

The term would be for the one year remaining on Larsen’s term. Whoever is selected would have to stand for election next fall.

More candidates could certainly come forward, county Democratic Chairman Kent Hanson said.

Some of the names are well-known in political circles; others aren’t.

On Wednesday, Larsen was composing a letter of resignation effective Dec. 31. The letter, which will go to council Chairwoman Barbara Cothern, will signal the start of a process to replace Larsen, who earlier this month won the 2nd Congressional District seat, replacing Republican Jack Metcalf.

Cothern will officially notify Hanson of the pending vacancy. Under the county’s charter, the Democrats will submit three names to the four remaining council members. The council will pick Larsen’s replacement from among those names. The names are submitted by the party of the person leaving office.

Larsen said he won’t put his weight behind any particular candidate. He only remarked that the district is one that could swing to either major political party, and "the job does require a balanced viewpoint."

Larsen represents the 1st Council District in rural north Snohomish County.

According to Hanson and Cothern, here are the people who have expressed at least some interest in the job:

  • Mike Ashley, 47, a dairy farmer from Silvana. He’s chairman of the Snohomish County Agricultural Advisory Board. As a dairy farmer, he said he could bring a unique perspective to the job relative to the effects of the Endangered Species Act and federal clean water mandates.

  • David Brock, 52, of Arlington, a state Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist and a member of the Lower Stillaguamish River Clean Water District board. He would use his experience to attack problems caused by growth.

  • Leila Dempsey, 47, Darrington mayor. She said her experience on the council and as executive in Darrington give her the experience needed to deal with the problems of rural areas.

  • John McCoy, 57, executive director of government affairs for the Tulalip Tribes. McCoy recently ran for a state House seat.

  • Esther McDonald, of Arlington. She ran against Larsen three years ago in the Democratic primary.

  • Jill McKinnie, 41, of Arlington, area aide to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and former aide to U.S. Rep. Al Swift. The talents she would bring to the council are directly related to the work she’s done for local constituents in working for members of Congress, McKinnie said.

  • Fredda Smith of Arlington, a Lakewood School District board member and a candidate this year for state senator in the 39th Legislative District.

  • Kevin Quigley, 39, a former state senator from Lake Stevens. He lost to Metcalf by a narrow margin in the 1994 race for the 2nd Congressional District seat.

    The ability to win an election next November is likely to be one quality the Democrats embrace when they pick the three names, Quigley said.

    When that will be is uncertain.

    Hanson said it’s likely the Democrats will meet in January to pick the nominees.

    Cothern said the earlier the better, because she doesn’t want to have a vacancy for a long time.

    Larsen said he hopes it doesn’t come to a deadlock, such as in 1992 when Gov. Booth Gardner was called in to break a 2-2 deadlock to appoint a replacement.

    Cothern said she’s glad some good candidates are on the list now.

    "It’s good to see people still want to serve in government," she said.

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