Council member Stephanie Wright stepped down in August during her third and final term to accept a position as a senior policy adviser to Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers.
Peterson was sworn in immediately following the special meeting Thursday.
“I’m a big fan of government and what it can do,” he said. “And this is another opportunity to serve.”
Peterson was selected over Edmonds School District director Carin Chase and Snohomish County public defender Colin McMahon of Lynnwood. The three candidates were nominated for the position earlier this month by the county Democratic Committee as law requires.
The committee had deemed Chase, 59, as the top candidate. At least 15 people attended the special meeting to back Chase, by far the largest contingent of supporters present.
Attendee Rosamaria Grazian said she took time off work.
“I’m literally losing money so I can be here,” Grazian said, explaining that Chase has been an ally to the Latino community in Snohomish County before and during her two terms on the school board.
“I am humbled and honored by the outpouring of support,” Chase said. “I hope that whoever is in leadership positions understands that these voices need to be heard, and they obviously showed up because they feel that I am reflecting their needs. That’s real.”
Attendee Kelly Wright gave a passionate speech during public comment arguing that Thursday’s appointment was “corrosive for democracy,” that the decision should have been left to the people, and condemning Peterson for “double-dipping” in political positions.
“No one serves in Congress without winning an election,” Wright said. “Why should the power of incumbency be handed to someone when we have four elections on the calendar every year?”
Wright called on council member Sam Low — who is running for the state’s 39th Legislative District — to recuse himself from the vote for the same “double-dipping” bias. Low did not recuse himself.
The county’s District 3 spans Lynnwood, Edmonds, Woodway and a swath of unincorporated Snohomish County.
Peterson, 54, was elected to the state House in 2014 and is currently running for re-election in his $57,876-a-year job as representative of the 21st Legislative District. He is chair of the Housing, Human Services and Veterans Committee and also serves on the Capital Budget and the Civil Rights and Judiciary committees.
He intends to serve in both the state and county positions.
Peterson also spent six years on the Edmonds City Council before entering the Legislature. He and his wife owned the Cheesemonger’s Table for two decades, until selling it last year.
His newly procured $126,571-a-year council job is up for election in November 2023.
Peterson announced he will run in next year’s county election in hopes of securing a full four-year term.
Chase heartily congratulated Peterson for his appointment and said “there are decisions to be made” about her participation in next November’s council member election.
Regarding the vote, County Council member Jared Mead credited the Tulalip Tribes’ endorsement of Peterson as a contributing factor in his decision to nominate Peterson.
Council Chair Megan Dunn voted for Peterson, but she also expressed concerns about his ability to handle the responsibilities required for both jobs. Ultimately, however, she felt that his interview responses quelled concerns.
Peterson was sworn in about 10 minutes after the council vote.
“We’re able as elected officials to serve as conduits to the people,” Peterson said.
Herald writer Jerry Cornfield contributed to this report.