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LIVE from Seattle: Who will succeed Jessyn Farrell? Democratic PCOs selecting nominees

Good morning from Lake City. I’m here at the Seattle Mennonite Church, where the Democratic precinct committee officers of the 46th Legislative District are gathered to draw up a list of candidates to succeed Jessyn Farrell, who recently resigned from the state House to run for Mayor of Seattle.

Washington's 46th legislative district

Washington’s 46th legislative district encompasses neighborhoods in north Seattle along with Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, and parts of Bothell (Washington State Mapbook)

Because Jessyn has quit the legislature to focus on her mayoral candidacy, a vacancy now exists for state representative in the 46th.

The Washington State Constitution stipulates that the process for filling a Democratic legislative vacancy begins with the naming of three candidates from the same district and of the same party by the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC) or the relevant county Democratic central committee.

The WSDCC specifies in its bylaws that when a vacancy is declared, the county or state party chair shall call a special nominating caucus of precinct committee officers from that district for the purpose of drawing up a list of three names to recommend to the King County Council for its consideration.

That’s what’s happening today. I will be updating this post at periodic intervals to summarize the proceedings that are taking place.

10:56 AM: Initial credential count shows 84 of 122 PCO’s present. The names of eight candidates have been placed into nomination, seven of whom are present.

  • Nigel Herbig
  • Melissa Taylor
  • Javier Valdez
  • Laurie Lippold
  • Jill Geary
  • Lelach Reva
  • Olivier BenHaim (not present)
  • Betsy Walker

11:02 AM: The body is at ease until 12:00 noon and the candidate’s forum is underway.

All candidates except Javier Valdez have pledged to support the PCO’s top choice when the nominees go before the King County Council for appointment. Valdez is also the only candidate that stated (by ‘YES’ card in a lightning round) that he would run in 2018 if not appointed.

11:48 AM: After a 45-minute question and answer forum, in which there was much consensus, the candidates are now mingling with PCOs on the floor garnering support for the upcoming vote.

12:00 PM: King County Democrats Chair Bailey Stober has called the meeting back to order, drawing names at random from a box for candidates or surrogates to make final statements.

In a calm, personal speech, Lelah Reva tells the audience she has a unique content expertise among all legislators in Olympia. There are currently no physicians serving in the legislature “where crucial healthcare decisions are being made”.

Former 46th LD chair introduces Betsy Walker, touting her drive to do the work on the streets, including areas outside of Seattle. Candidate Walker then lists her top policy priorities including introducing a carbon tax and family sick leave.

Nigel Herbig, a Kenmore City Councilmember and former Jessyn Farrell Legislative Assistant touts his support from Farrell and his accomplishments at the local level, declaring himself the only candidate with a track record in elected office and experience at the legislature.

A proxy is now speaking on behalf of Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, who could not be present today.

Melissa Taylor, a software engineer and executive and citizen lobbyist in Olympia. Calls herself a creative, resourceful innovator. She cites her building of a multi-million dollar business for Dell in Asia, time as a citizen lobbyist in Olympia, and mother.

Jill Geary, a current Seattle School Board Director cites her strong education background at a time when education policy is of central focus at the legislature. Geary’s role on the Seattle School Board has also given her experience working on legislation in Olympia.

Javier Valdez is introduced by former Congressman Jim McDermott who sells the candidate as “not a showhorse- a workhorse.” Valdez tells his story as the son of farm workers from Central Washington and a product of public education who has been dedicated to the 46th LD Democrats for years.

Laurie Lippold, introduces herself as a long-time citizen activist involved with countless pieces of legislation from inception to implementation. she has the relationships and knows how to build bridges and consensus.

12:33 PM: The final credential count shows 90 of 122 PCO’s present. Voting by ballot begins now.

12:45 PM: The first vote count:

Javier Valdez – 35

Nigel Herbig – 20

Melissa Taylor – 15

Laurie Lippold – 11

Betsy Walker – 6

Jill Geary – 1

Lelach Reva – 1

Olivier BenHaim – 1

12:49 PM: The second round of voting is now underway.

Javier Valdez is the top choice of the 46th LD PCO’s. The results of the run-off between the top two candidates are as follows:

Javier Valdez – 51

Nigel Herbig – 38

12:56 PM: Voting is now underway to determine the second and third ranked candidates to send to the King County Council for appointment.

1:03 PM: 86 ballots cast and no candidate received 50%+1, so we are now entering another round of voting between top two remaining candidates, Nigel Herbig and Melissa Taylor.

1:08 PM: Melissa Taylor is the second ranked choice.

Melissa Taylor – 43

Nigel Herbig – 40 votes

Balloting is now underway for the 3rd and final nominee to send before the King County Council.

1:16 PM: The third and final candidate to go before the King County Council for appointment will be Nigel Herbig, who received 45 of the 79 votes in the final round.

1:20 PM: The meeting is now adjourned. The final nominees to go before the King County Council for appointment to the state house are ranked as follows:

#1: Javier Valdez

#2: Melissa Taylor

#3: Nigel Herbig

Taylor and Herbig have previously stated they would support the top choice of the PCO’s, so Valdez will likely face no opposition when the nominees go before the council.

NPI congratulates all three well-qualified candidates on their nominations.