Rep. Hans Dunshee says he’ll run for Somers’ County Council seat

SNOHOMISH — State Rep. Hans Dunshee wants to take on a new job as a Snohomish County councilman, but not before finishing some business in Olympia.

The Democrat from Snohomish announced Tuesday he’ll be seeking the nomination for the council seat that Dave Somers will leave when he takes office as county executive.

“I want to bring my passion for building strong communities to Snohomish County,” Dunshee said.

Dunshee, who has served in the capitol for two decades, intends to complete the 2016 legislative session, when he’ll have a central role crafting the state budget. The session is scheduled Jan. 11 through March 10.

“I’ll be negotiating a budget,” Dunshee said. “I’ve committed to do that.”

Somers represents District 5, an area that includes Lake Stevens, Snohomish, Monroe and the U.S. 2 corridor to the east. The councilman beat incumbent County Executive John Lovick on Nov. 3 and is set to be sworn in by the first of the year.

Because Somers is a Democrat and has an unexpired council term, the county Democratic Party must nominate three candidates to replace him.

The party hopes to convene precinct committee offers to vote on nominations during the first week in February, said Richard Wright, the chairman of the county party and husband of County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright.

The County Council gets to pick among the party’s nominees.

The job pays $111,000 per year.

Guy Palumbo also hopes to get the nomination, but said he’s glad to see Dunshee’s interest. A Maltby-area resident, Palumbo serves on the county planning commission and the Fire District 7 board.

“Hans is a good person who clearly cares a lot about Snohomish County,” Palumbo said. “Whoever gets the appointment, the county is going to be in good hands.”

Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak had considered the appointment as well, but now intends to lend her support to Dunshee. Guzak could still round out the trio of nominees, even if she’s endorsing someone else.

“I yield to Hans,” she said. “I think he’ll be terrific. I’m looking forward to four more years here in Snohomish and I’d like to be mayor again.”

State Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens also has been mentioned as a possible contender, but he’s said to be more interested in running for lieutenant governor in 2016.

Whoever gets the appointment will have to run next November — and win — to serve out 2017, the final year of Somers’ council term.

Lake Stevens City Councilman Sam Low, a Republican, has filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission to start raising money for that race. Low is a business owner and chairman of the county’s Board of Health.

Dunshee, 62, served in the state House from 1992 to 1994, and again from 1996 to the present. He represents the 44th Legislative District, which in its current configuration includes Mill Creek, Snohomish, Lake Stevens and Snohomish, plus surrounding areas. In the past, his district has included the areas of Monroe, Sultan and Gold Bar.

In the state House, Dunshee cited recent work to secure state funding for Washington State University’s expansion in Everett and a new boat ramp in Snohomish.

He’s been a past member of the county planning commission and the county Charter Review Commission.

If Dunshee were to succeed Somers, it could trigger an interesting chain of events. Lovick hopes to continue in politics after he steps down as county executive. Before becoming county sheriff, a position he held before becoming executive, he served nine years in the state House representing the 44th District.

“I’ve given it some serious consideration,” Lovick said. “It’s something that I’d be interested in, but obviously we have to see how it plays out.”

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

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