Retired Navy captain appointed to fill state House seat

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday appointed Republican Doug Roulstone of Snohomish to an open seat in the state House of Representatives, serving the 44th Legislative District.

Roulstone, a retired Navy captain and 2006 candidate for Congress, fills a vacancy created in July by the resignation of Republican Mike Hope.

Inslee called Roulstone Friday afternoon to ask him to serve and he accepted, said David Postman, the governor’s executive director of communication. Roulstone will serve until results of the general election are certified on Nov. 25.

Inslee is the first governor in more than half a century to appoint a member of the Legislature and did so because the Snohomish County Council balked at taking action Sept. 15. The council of four Democrats and a Republican voted unanimously to ask the governor to decide which of three Republican nominees should get the temporary job.

Inslee’s decision didn’t sit well with the leader of the Snohomish County Republican Party because he didn’t choose the party’s preferred choice, Mill Creek City Councilman Mark Harmsworth. Lake Stevens City Councilman Sam Low was Roulstone the third nominee.

Billye Brooks Sebastiani, chairwoman of the county Republican Party, said Roulstone is “very qualified,” but she wanted to see Harmsworth chosen.

She contended Harmsworth didn’t get selected because he’s a candidate for the office in the upcoming election, and Democrats on the County Council and the Democratic governor worried about giving him a boost with the appointment. Harmsworth’s opponent is Democrat Mike Wilson.

“It is political. I’m very disappointed,” she said.

State law doesn’t require that the party’s preferred nominee be chosen, and the governor was looking for somebody who would be a good caretaker, Postman explained.

The governor told Roulstone he understood that Harmsworth was the top choice of precinct officers, Postman said.

But the governor was impressed by Roulstone’s statement to the County Council that “If you should choose me I will work very hard for the people. I will be basically non-partisan in how I work and I’ll do the best I can.”

Postman stepped around Sebastiani’s charge that the governor passed over Harmsworth solely because of his candidacy.

Appointing someone who is in the midst of an election could have an effect on an election, Postman acknowledged. The governor should not be involved in a local campaign and this was a way to avoid doing so, he said.

Choosing someone who says they will be nonpartisan cannot be seen as a political decision, Postman said.

“Doug is a good choice,” Postman said. The governor “picked a guy who is the perfect person to hold this seat for this short period.”

Inslee notified the clerk of the House of Representatives on Friday, clearing the way for Roulstone to be sworn in.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Pablo Garduno and the team at Barbacoa Judith’s churn out pit-roasted lamb tacos by the dozen at the Hidden Gems Weekend Market on Sunday, April 28, 2024, at Boom City in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Eating our way through Tulalip’s Hidden Gems weekend market

Don’t miss the pupusas, pit-roasted lamb tacos, elotes and even produce for your next meal.

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

A guitarist keeps rhythm during Lovely Color’s set on the opening night of Fisherman’s Village on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at Black Lab in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
No matter what music you’re into, Fisherman’s Village has a hook for you

From folk to psychedelic pop to hip-hop, here’s a quick guide to artists you might want to check out in downtown Everett.

Gayle Jones leads a praryer during a ceremony for the healing pole students spent the last year carving along with Tulalip carver James Madison at Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A source of healing’: Archbishop Murphy unveils Coast Salish healing pole

“I’m happy to have representation of my culture here at AMHS being one out of 15 Native American students,” said Amaya Hernandez.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.