GOP nominates 3 to fill vacant seat in state Senate

A special meeting to make the appointment is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Jan. 3.

ARLINGTON — Sedro-Woolley Mayor Keith Wagoner, former state lawmaker Elizabeth Scott and party activist Georgene Faries are the top choices of Republican Party officers to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Kirk Pearson.

The three were nominated for the appointment Thursday night at a special meeting of 39th Legislative District precinct officers at Hadley Hall in Arlington.

Wagoner emerged as the preferred nominee of the 29 party officers in attendance with Scott ranked second and Faries third, according to Bill Bruch, chairman of the Skagit County Republican Party. It took several rounds of balloting to decide the order.

Three others who expressed interest in the position — former Monroe Mayor Robert Zimmerman, professional musician Bronn Journey, of Sultan, and party activist Randy Hayden, of Darrington — withdrew prior to the meeting.

Bruch emailed the results to Skagit County commissioners Thursday night.

“We all witnessed a fair and open process and a spirited meeting,” Bruch wrote. “All three nominees are quality candidates and good people.”

Snohomish County Republican Party Chairwoman Debbie Blodgett shared the sentiment.

“All three are good candidates,” she said. “Any one of the three would be a good senator.”

Pearson, of Monroe, resigned Nov. 12, after serving five years in the Senate representing the rural district encompassing portions of Snohomish, Skagit and King counties. The person chosen to succeed him will serve through the 2018 election.

Because the district contains portions of three counties, the elected council members and commissioners in all of them will have a say in who is appointed. A special meeting to make the appointment is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Jan. 3 in the chambers of the Snohomish County Council.

Bruch, in his email to commissioners, said he’d like the meeting held sooner to give the appointee more time to prepare for the 2018 legislative session, which begins Jan. 8.

In the meantime, the Snohomish County Council, Skagit County Commission and King County Council are expected to interview the candidates separately ahead of the special meeting. No dates have been announced for those conversations.

Wagoner, a retired U.S. Navy commander, was elected mayor of Sedro-Woolley in 2015. Before that he served five years on the City Council. He cited his civic experience as a critical attribute in a note sent to precinct committee officers before Thursday’s meeting,

Scott is looking to return to the Legislature, where she served two terms in the House in the 39th district. She was first elected in 2012 and won re-election in 2014. In 2016, she decided to run for Congress rather than seek a third state term.

Faries, of Arlington, a precinct committee officer, is in her fourth year as president of the Evergreen Republican Women and is the vice chairwoman of the 39th Legislative District Republicans. If chosen, she would be serving in an elected office for the first time.

For Scott and Faries, this is a familiar path.

In September, they were among the three Republicans nominated to fill the House seat that opened up when John Koster resigned. Scott and Faries were the top choice but the county officials chose the third nominee, Carolyn Eslick, who was mayor of Sultan at the time.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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