Gov. Jay Inslee has named Federal Way School Board member Carol Gregory to fill the 30th District State House seat vacated by the Oct. 29 death of Rep. Roger Freeman.
Gregory, a Democrat, was the first choice of Democratic party groups and was recommended unanimously by the Metropolitan King County Council last month. The 30th District includes parts of Federal Way, Milton, Algona and Pacific.
A longtime figure in education-policy circles, Gregory is a former teacher and former president of the Washington Education Association. She also worked in the office of Gov. Booth Gardner and for the King County Executive’s office.
Gregory’s appointment is only good through the end of the year. To hang on to the seat, she’ll have to run for the position this November — and is likely to draw a significant Republican challenger.
“Carol has outstanding experience at both the state and local government levels which makes her ready to hit the ground running for an important legislative session,” Inslee said in a news release.
The appointment ends a squabble that erupted over the appointment process between the King and Pierce County Councils.
Because the 30th District also includes part of Pierce County, the Pierce County Council also was supposed to weigh in on the appointment.
Pierce County Council Chair Dan Roach, a Republican, demanded a joint meeting with the King County Council to vote on which of three finalists to appoint, noting that’s been the way similar vacancies have been handled. But the King County Council rebuffed the request and voted on its own. Because Pierce County did not act, the choice was left to Inslee.
There was never any doubt the seat would go to a Democrat. Under the state Constitution, such vacancies must be filled by a representative of the same political party. Three finalists are selected by the Democratic party, and the respective county councils are then supposed to pick from that list. If the counties can’t agree after 60 days, the governor gets to pick.
Roach said in an interview Thursday he considers the matter settled. “I know Ms. Gregory is going to do a fine job,” he said. “It was never about her or the other candidates. The biggest thing for me was just the process and what that means.”