EVERETT — Guy Palumbo earned Democrats’ support Saturday as their top pick to fill Executive Dave Somers’ former seat on the Snohomish County Council.
But it’s up to county council members to make the final selection. State Rep. Hans Dunshee, who finished second to Palumbo, said he’s still intent on winning the appointment to the District 5 seat. Mark Hintz, who finished third, also will be among the nominees whose names the council can consider, but he’s asking them to pick Palumbo to respect the party’s wishes.
Palumbo, a fire commissioner and planning commissioner from Maltby, credited his victory to hard work at convincing party members that he’s mastered the most crucial issues facing the county. He’s delved into topics such as urban sprawl, traffic and county finances.
“I appreciate that it was an issues-based campaign,” he said. “Now I have to move on and convince the council that I’m the right person for the job.”
Only Democratic precinct committee officers from east county were eligible to participate in Saturday’s vote.
Palumbo beat Dunshee 17 to 11 votes. Hintz, a fire commissioner who lives near Snohomish, got three.
It might take the County Council until Feb. 29 to schedule interviews with the nominees and vote on the appointment. By law, that’s their last day to fill the vacancy. If a majority of the remaining four council members can’t line up behind a candidate by that time, the choice would go to Gov. Jay Inslee, a Dunshee ally.
“I’m here in Olympia, doing the people’s work,” Dunshee said afterward. “Guy campaigned hard. Congratulations to him.”
But the Democrat from Snohomish likened the party vote to a primary election. Dunshee said he’s trailed in primaries before and prevailed in the general election.
“This is the nomination, not the general election,” he said.
Hintz said he will support Palumbo. Party leaders sent a letter to the council asking their support for the top choice by precinct committee officers.
“If the council were to choose me, I’d have to turn it down,” Hintz said. “Guy got the votes and he is the person who should be appointed. That’s the democratic way.”
That pits Dunshee, 62, who has been in office for two decades, against the lesser-known Palumbo.
During introductions before Saturday’s vote at the Everett Labor Temple, Dunshee described himself as a “proven warrior for the things that matter to us.” He’d just finished talking about his support from labor, environmental activists and other traditionally Democratic-leaning groups. Dunshee is the Democrats’ main budget writer during the current legislative session.
Palumbo is originally from New York. He’s 42, and owns Roscoe’s Ranch, a dog-boarding business. Earlier, he worked in high tech at Amazon.
Michael McConnell, a president for firefighters in two local districts, gave an apt description Palumbo when he spoke in support of his candidacy.
“When you first meet Guy, some people don’t know how to handle his intensity,” McConnell said, adding, “I wouldn’t change it if I could.”
The District 5 council seat includes Lake Stevens, Monroe, Snohomish and areas farther east on the U.S. 2 corridor. They’ve been without representation on the council since Jan. 1. The position opened up after Somers replaced John Lovick as executive, following his victory over the fellow Democrat in November.