State Senator Ron Muzzall
Washington State Senator Ron Muzzall with his family, Shelly Muzzall, Jennifer Jones, Jessica Jean Hart and Roshel Donwen. (Photo: Ron Muzzall).

An Island Coun­ty farmer who is a new­com­er to state pol­i­tics has been unan­i­mous­ly cho­sen to take the place of Bar­bara Bai­ley in the Wash­ing­ton State fol­low­ing Bai­ley’s res­ig­na­tion, which was effec­tive Sep­tem­ber 30th.

Ron Muz­za­ll, fifty-six, was appoint­ed to serve out the remain­der of Bai­ley’s unex­pired term rep­re­sent­ing the 10th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict at a joint meet­ing of the Island and Skag­it Coun­ty Com­mis­sions and the Sno­homish Coun­ty Council.

Muz­za­ll, the man­ag­er of 3 Sis­ters Fam­i­ly Farms on Whid­bey Island, was one of three nom­i­nees select­ed by the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee. The oth­ers were Chris­tine Cribb, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Oak Har­bor Cham­ber of Com­merce, and Sarah Hyatt, a co-own­er of Hyatt Construction.

The farm, which is owned by the Muz­za­ll fam­i­ly, describes itself as “a mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional farm, with the 4th, 5th & 6th gen­er­a­tions active. Locat­ed on beau­ti­ful Whid­bey Island since 1910, we spe­cial­ize in all nat­ur­al beef, pork, lamb & chick­ens.” The farm spans approx­i­mate­ly six hun­dred acres. It is not open to the pub­lic, but school/group tours can be reserved by mak­ing an appointment.

“Well, now you know what I have been up to for the last cou­ple months,” Muz­za­ll said in a post­ing on his Face­book wall reflect­ing on his appoint­ment.

“It start­ed in ear­ly August when we became aware that our state Sen­a­tor was step­ping down. I was hum­bled to be asked by some for­mer coun­ty com­mis­sion­ers to con­sid­er sub­mit­ting my name for the appoint­ment. Six peo­ple sub­mit­ted their names [to the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty] and I was select­ed num­ber one. Then the com­mis­sion­ers from two coun­ties and the coun­ty coun­cil from the third coun­ty [Sno­homish] inter­viewed the top three and sub­mit­ted questions.”

“This after­noon, they asked more ques­tions and then vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to appoint me [as a] Wash­ing­ton State Sen­a­tor. I will have to run in 2020. I am hum­bled and thank­ful for the sup­port giv­en by every­one involved. Thank you all!”

Muz­za­ll, who signs many of his social media posts with the moniker “The Hap­py Farmer,” grad­u­at­ed from Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty in 1986 with a bach­e­lor’s degree in agri­cul­tur­al mech­a­niza­tion. He has served on the boards of Land O’Lakes, the well known farmer’s coop­er­a­tive, and Skag­it Farm­ers Supply.

He has also been a com­mis­sion­er for North Whid­bey Fire & Rescue.

Muz­za­ll is expect­ed to face Demo­c­ra­t­ic Island Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er Helen Price John­son next year when the posi­tion he now holds is nor­mal­ly con­test­ed. Price John­son recused her­self from the vote to appoint Muz­za­ll, cit­ing her candidacy.

The 10th is a swing leg­isla­tive dis­trict that is one of the few left in Wash­ing­ton that sends a mix­ture of Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans to Olympia. Aside from Muz­za­ll, it is cur­rent­ly rep­re­sent­ed by Repub­li­can Nor­ma Smith and Demo­c­rat Dave Paul. From 2013 until this year, it had an all Republican-delegation.

Democ­rats won a com­pet­i­tive House race in the 10th last year with Paul and now believe they can reclaim the Sen­ate seat that once belonged to Mary Mar­garet Hau­gen, a fix­ture of the Sen­ate who chaired the Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee before the Rod­ney Tom error. Hau­gen was deci­sive­ly defeat­ed by Bai­ley in 2012.

Smith opt­ed to remain in the House instead of seek the Sen­ate appointment.

Bar­bara Bai­ley most recent­ly served on the Health & Long Term Care Com­mit­tee, the  State Gov­ern­ment, Trib­al Rela­tions & Elec­tions Com­mit­tee, and the pow­er­ful Ways & Means Com­mit­tee. How­ev­er, with Muz­za­ll now on board, the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans may choose to reshuf­fle a few com­mit­tee assign­ments so that he can put his exper­tise in agri­cul­ture to good use as a sen­a­tor. The Sen­ate has an Agri­cul­ture, Water, Nat­ur­al Resources & Parks Com­mit­tee, chaired by Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Kevin Van De Wege of the 24th Leg­isla­tive District.

Con­grat­u­la­tions on your appoint­ment, Sen­a­tor Muz­za­ll, and best wish­es for the com­ing 2020 leg­isla­tive ses­sion that begins in a few months.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts