After speaking with all three of the candidates nominated last week by the Washington State Democratic Party to succeed the late Representative Roger Freeman, the King County Council this afternoon unanimously voted to back Carol Gregory (the party’s first choice) to fill the vacancy in the 30th Legislative District.
Because the 30th is a joint district spanning two counties (there are seven precincts in Pierce County), the Council’s action today does not constitute an appointment. Gregory will only take office when and if the Pierce County Council concurs.
If it does not, the counties would either have to reconcile their differences somehow, or the matter would be resolved by Governor Jay Inslee once sixty days have elapsed since the date the vacancy was created.
Councilmembers Larry Phillips, Rod Dembowski, Dave Upthegrove, Larry Gossett, Joe McDermott, Reagan Dunn, Pete von Reichbauer, and Kathy Lambert took part in the vote. Councilmember Jane Hague was absent.
During the Q&A prior to the vote, councilmembers asked a number of questions of the candidates (Carol Gregory, Richard Champion, and Shari Song). Some of the most pointed and interesting questions came from Pete von Reichbauer, who asked about McCleary compliance, possible light rail alignment through the south county, and whether the candidates would support an income tax. Councilmember Kathy Lambert asked the candidates if they knew the state’s per pupil spending figures.
In many ways, Gregory was the obvious and logical choice. She was the winner of the runoff for first place at the nominating caucus (although only by one vote, and not all of the 30th’s PCOs participated). She has extensive public sector experience and presently serves as a school board member in Federal Way, having been elected to that position in 2013. And she is a knowledgeable speaker. She gracefully and competently fielded the questions that were asked of her at the meeting.
If Pierce County concurs in the appointment for each vacancy, Gregory would minimally serve through the end of next year. A special election to determine Freeman’s elected successor will be held concurrent with the next general election in 2015. Gregory has indicated she would be a candidate in that special election.