Snohomish County Council can’t decide on a state House appointment

EVERETT — The Democrat-controlled Snohomish County Council balked Monday at appointing a Republican to an open state House seat.

Instead of choosing a replacement, the council voted 5-0 to let Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee fill the vacancy in the 44th Legislative District created by the July resignation of Republican Rep. Mike Hope.

Council members acted swiftly and without explanation after spending 25 minutes behind closed doors discussing three nominees submitted by the Republican Party. They did not vote on the candidates in open session.

“We’ve had a rousing discussion,” said Councilman Brian Sullivan, before making a motion to punt the decision to the governor.

State election officials said it’s the first time in recent history a governor will fill a legislative seat at the request of a County Council.

The council action didn’t sit well with the political director of the House Republican Caucus.

“Any of the three nominees would have done an admirable job during an appointment. But the Democrat council members refused to do their statutory duty because they are playing politics,” Kevin Carns wrote in an email.

Republican precinct officers nominated Mill Creek City Councilman Mark Harmsworth, Lake Stevens City Councilman Sam Low and retired Navy captain Doug Roulstone for the open seat.

On Monday, the County Council of four Democrats and one Republican interviewed each candidate in open session, then went into executive session.

Harmsworth was the top choice of the precinct officers, and Low and Roulstone both urged the council to appoint him.

But Harmsworth is also a candidate for the seat and bested Democrat Mike Wilson in the August primary, which might have been a factor in the County Council’s reticence Monday.

Council Chairman Dave Somers, a Democrat, declined to say why the council could not muster majority support for any of the candidates.

“There was clearly no consensus,” he said, adding that the council was in an “awkward position” with the seat becoming available in the midst of an election.

Republican Councilman Ken Klein said he fought for Harmsworth.

“I couldn’t get three votes,” he said. “I was surprised only because Mark was the most ready and he’d been working on these issues. As to the motivation for why, I can’t speak to that.”

Harmsworth, who seemed disappointed by the council’s decision, responded diplomatically to the experience.

“Politics is politics. I don’t want to assume what they were deliberating behind closed doors,” he said. “I was ready to serve. We’ll see what the governor does. The real thing is the election in the fall, and we’ll see what happens then.”

Inslee will have 30 days to make an appointment after he receives the County Council’s request.

The governor must choose from the nominees submitted to the council. Whoever is appointed will represent the district until results of the Nov. 4 election are certified, at which point the winner will be sworn into office for a full House term.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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.

Julie Timm
Sound Transit’s $375K payout to ex-CEO didn’t buy help

Board members said Julie Timm would give professional advice to them or a future CEO after leaving, but she hasn’t been called upon.

FILE -- An engine on a Boeing 767 jet aircraft, at a Boeing facility in Everett, Wash., March 7, 2012. The Boeing 737 engine that failed on Southwest Flight 1380 is not the only one that has caught the eye of regulators: Engines on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and 767 have also failed, prompting questions about their design and inspection procedures. (Stuart Isett/The New York Times)
Boeing 767, built in Everett, gets 5-year lifeline from Congress

Boeing would have been forced to end production of the 767 Freighter in 2027 due to new emissions rules if not for the extension.

Snohomish County Jail. (Herald file)
Inmate, 51, dies at Snohomish County Jail

Around 3 p.m., corrections staff called 911 about an inmate, who became unresponsive as firefighters arrived. He died at the scene.

With the Olympic mountains in the background, Boeing's 777x lifts off from Paine Field on its first flight, to Boeing Field in Seattle, on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 in Everett, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
1 dead, dozens injured after turbulence on Boeing plane

A Singapore Airlines flight from London was diverted to Bangkok, where more than 70 people were being treated for injuries.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Idaho man identified in fatal trooper shooting on I-5 near Everett

The deceased man was Marvin Arellano, 31, of Nampa, Idaho, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.

State Sen. Mark Mullet, left, and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, are both running as Democrats for governor in 2024. (Photos provided)
Did Bob Ferguson go too far responding to fellow Fergusons?

Ferguson wanted the secretary of state to redo the ballot. Mark Mullet, a Democratic rival, says such a move would’ve broken the law.

Photo by Gina Shields of GM Photography
Whidbey Island to salute the fallen for Memorial Day

All are invited to honor those who have fallen at three events on Whidbey Island.

Boeing firefighters and supporters hold an informational picket at Airport Road and Kasch Park Road on Monday, April 29, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Boeing union firefighters to vote on new contract proposal

The company made the offer after “a productive session” of bargaining and reported the amended contract includes an “improved wage growth schedule.”

Catholic Community Services NW Director of Housing Services and Everett Family Center Director Rita Jo Case, right, speaks to a man who asked to remain anonymous, left, during a point-in-time count of people facing homelessness in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Homelessness down nearly 10% in Snohomish County, annual count shows

The county identified 1,161 people without permanent housing, down from 1,285 last year. But lack of resources is still a problem, advocates said.

Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Craig Matheson on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 in Everett, Washington. Matheson retires this month after 35 years in the prosecutor's office. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
For decades, he prosecuted Snohomish County’s most high-stakes cases

“When you think of a confident prosecutor, you see a picture of Craig (Matheson) in the dictionary.” Or in the thesaurus, flip to “prepared.”

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.