Local Democratic activists met Tuesday night to fill vacancies in a couple of Seattle-area legislative seats.
Ed Murray’s election as Seattle mayor last month left his 43rd Legislative District state Senate seat up for grabs.
State Rep. Jamie Pedersen will slide over to that position, as he ran essentially unopposed at a meeting Tuesday night of the 43rd District Democrats. Hundreds of Democratic precinct-committee officers gathered in a South Lake Union meeting hall for the vote.
Under the state constitution, legislative vacancies are filled via appointments by the local county council, which must choose a replacement from the same political party from a list of three names submitted by the local party organization. In practice, the Metropolitan King County Council typically picks the top choice from the list forwarded by the party.
So as a formality, the council will have two other names to choose from besides Pedersen, but both those alternative “candidates” made it clear Tuesday night they back Pedersen and have no intention of serving.
Pedersen, an attorney, was elected to the state House in 2006 and has served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
After Pedersen’s selection, the real drama Tuesday night was over the appointment to fill Pedersen’s state House seat.
After a couple rounds of voting, the nod for that position went to Brady Walkinshaw, a program officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Walkinshaw is Cuban-American and gay, living on Capitol Hill with his partner, who works for the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walkinshaw bested Scott Forbes, the chairman of the 43rd District Democrats, and Cristina Gonzalez, a budget analyst for King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office. While all three names will be sent to the County Council, party etiquette says the runners-up will back Walkinshaw as the first choice.
The 43rd District runs through the liberal heart of Seattle (including Capitol Hill, Fremont, Wallingford and the University District) and at last night’s meeting of nearly 200 precinct-committee officers (PCOs), the three candidates sounded virtually identical calls for new tax revenue for schools, strengthened civil-rights protections for minorities and increased transit funding.
Forbes called it a choice between “an excellent progressive candidate, an excellent progressive candidate, and an excellent progressive candidate.”
So it came down to who had rallied enough PCOs to show up on a Tuesday night to vote. And Walkinshaw, who repeatedly boasted of his many endorsements from party leaders and state legislators, including Pedersen, won the ground game.
Meanwhile, in the 33rd Legislative District south of Seattle, Democrats selected Kent City Councilmember Elizabeth Albertson to fill the state House seat being vacated because of Dave Upthegrove’s election to the Metropolitan King County Council.
The 33rd District covers Kent, SeaTac, Des Moines and Normandy Park.
All the appointees will serve one year and will have to stand for election to full terms in 2014.