Lovick picked for legislative seat, but appointment process draws fire

EVERETT — Everything was going to script until almost the end on the day the Snohomish County Council appointed John Lovick to a vacant seat in the state House of Representatives.

During a public interview in council chambers Wednesday, Lovick, a former sheriff and county executive, spoke of his experience. The Democrat told council members about his desire to return to the Legislature, where he previously served from 1999 through 2007.

“I believe I can have a positive impact on that great work that they do,” he said.

When it came time for interviews with two other nominees put forward by local Democrats, they urged the council to support Lovick.

“I’m not qualified. John is,” said Kathy Christensen, of Everett.

“John Lovick is far and away the best choice for this position,” said Bill Trueit, also of Everett.

So it came as no surprise when Lovick got the nod.

Also not surprisingly, the sole Republican on the council voted in opposition to his four Democratic colleagues.

“I will be casting a no vote today against the appointment process which I feel is erratic and dysfunctional,” Councilman Ken Klein said.

Klein faulted the partisan appointment process spelled out in state law. He compared what happened this week in Snohomish County to a similar situation in 2014, when Mike Hope, a Republican, resigned his seat in the same 44th Legislative District. Instead of picking one of the three nominees from the county GOP, the council sent the choice to Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat.

Inslee picked Doug Roulstone, a retired Navy captain who wasn’t the GOP’s top pick. Like the Democratic runners-up on Wednesday, Roulstone had urged council members to go with his party’s preference.

Mark Harmsworth, the GOP’s top nominee who was passed over for the appointment, won the job in the next election.

Lovick finds himself back in a familiar role.

A Mill Creek resident, he worked for 31 years as a state trooper before retiring as a sergeant. His earlier stint in the Legislature ended after he was first elected sheriff in 2007. He was appointed county executive in 2013 and the following year won a special one-year term in office.

Wednesday’s appointment completed a political game of musical chairs after Lovick lost the county executive’s job to Dave Somers in last fall’s election.

When he took over as executive, Somers had been in the middle of his third consecutive term in the council’s District 5.

On Feb. 29., the County Council appointed then-state Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, to fill Somers’ old council seat. Dunshee continued to serve in both jobs through the end of the legislative session and resigned from his House seat on April 18.

By Feb. 1, Lovick had already issued a press release about his intention to seek Dunshee’s seat.

To keep the job past November, Lovick must win election to a two-year term.

Also competing for the post is Janice Huxford, a Republican from Lake Stevens who co-owns a roofing company, and Wilberforce Agyekum, an Everett attorney who stated no party preference.

The top two finishers will advance from the Aug. 2 primary to face off in the Nov. 8 General Election.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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