MOUNT VERNON — Farm owner Ron Muzzall, Chamber of Commerce leader Christine Cribb and construction company owner Sara Hyatt are the top choices of Republican Party officers to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Barbara Bailey.
The trio emerged as nominees for the appointment at a meeting Thursday of 10th Legislative District precinct officers in Mount Vernon.
South Whidbey School board member Damian Greene, ex-Navy League president Steve Bristow and precinct officer James Golder, a former Idaho lawmaker, also sought the appointment.
Overall, Muzzall earned the top ranking followed by Cribb and Hyatt. It took three rounds of balloting before Muzzall garnered a majority of votes from the 33 participating precinct officers, according to information posted online by party officials. Cribb and Hyatt locked up their spots in subsequent rounds.
Bailey, of Oak Harbor, retired Sept. 30 after a 17-year legislative career. She departed with a year left in her current term. Whoever is appointed will serve until the November 2020 election is certified.
The 10th District takes in all of Island County and communities in northwest Snohomish County and southwest Skagit County. Stanwood is the largest city in the Snohomish County portion.
Because the district spills into three counties, the five Snohomish County Council members, three Skagit County commissioners and three Island County commissioners will meet Oct. 18 to collectively make the appointment. The meeting is slated for 1:30 p.m. in the office of the Skagit County Commission in Mount Vernon.
All three nominees said Friday they intend to continue pushing for the appointment.
“This process is supposed to pick the best replacement and it didn’t stop last night,” Muzzall said.
Muzzall, 56, of Oak Harbor, manages 3 Sisters Family Farm and 3 Sisters Cattle Co. on Whidbey Island.
He is a former commissioner for North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and is making his first bid for a partisan legislative seat.
“I am a farmer and I’m a conservative and I’m a Republican,” he said. “I’ve been involved for 30 years in government and governance. I’m certainly not new to working in the system.”
Cribb, 57, of Oak Harbor, is the executive director of the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. She is a past member of the Oak Harbor School Board. This is her first try for a partisan elected office and she’s received Bailey’s endorsement.
“I think the (precinct committee officers) have certainly recommended three very qualified people,” Cribb said. “I stressed to them the importance of appointing someone who represents all areas of the district and who is very electable. I felt I was that candidate.”
Hyatt, 46, lives in unincorporated Snohomish County near Stanwood. She is a precinct committee officer and vice president of Hyatt Construction, a family-owned civil contracting business.
“It’s been an eventful process,” she said. “I look forward to talking to commissioners and county council members about what I have to offer the residents of the district.”
Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, a Democrat, announced in August she is running for the Senate seat. She is expected to participate in the appointment.
“The job of the commissioners is to pick a good senator for the 2020 session,” she said. “I think the best qualified person should be chosen.”