Press "Enter" to skip to content

Whatcom County Council voted 4-2 to delay naming Sen. Ericksen’s replacement until Jan. 11

The following was originally published by The Center Square.


senator doug ericksen
42nd District State Senator Doug Ericksen

(The Center Square) – Eighteen days apparently wasn’t enough time for the Whatcom County Council to select a replacement state senator for the 42nd Legislative District.

That means the district will be without a state senator when the Washington State Legislature starts its 2022 session on Jan. 10.

Whatcom County Council members voted 4-2 at a special Tuesday meeting to delay naming a replacement for state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, until their Jan. 11 meeting. Councilmember Ben Elenbaas, one of three candidates for the state Senate vacancy, recused himself from a discussion on the matter during the meeting.

Advertisement
Click for more information

Advertisement
Click for more information

Ericksen passed away on Dec. 17 after a five-week battle with COVID-19.

Councilmembers Rud Browne, Barry Buchanan, Todd Donovan, and Carol Frazey voted in favor of the delay. Councilmembers Tyler Byrd and Kathy Kershner voted no.

“Two of the three candidates are unknown to most of the Councilmembers, and the Council has requested 10 days to provide them a questionnaire and get their responses,” Browne explained in an email to The Center Square. “The list of questions the applicants are being asked to answer was unanimously approved 6-0 by the full Council – Browne, Byrd, Buchannan, Kershner, Frazey and Donovan (Elenbaas recused himself).”

“This will help ensure all applicants are treated equally and to assist the council to determine which Republican candidate will best represent the 42nd district (which is the council’s responsibility under the Constitution to do). Assuming the applicants complete their questionnaires by Friday’s deadline the Council expects to make the appointment on its next regular meeting, January 11th.”

The council “abdicated its duty to select a replacement for Senator Doug Ericksen,” Kershner charged in an email.

She went on to say, “After the recent floods and freeze, families in our hard-hit communities remain displaced. They’ve been driven out of their homes and into tents and trailers and are in desperate need of help. At this critical moment, what district besides the 42nd needs a senator more? [This] politically-motivated inaction is a slap in the face to Doug and his legacy of helping those who needed it most, of being a voice for those who didn’t have one in Olympia. When the Legislature convenes on January 10, because of Councilmembers Todd Donovan, Carol Frazey, Rud Browne, and Barry Buchanan, the 42nd won’t have a voice in the senate.”

Advertisement
Click for more information

Advertisement
Click for more information

This could have been avoided, Kershner pointed out.

“It didn’t have to be this way,” she said. “The Whatcom Republicans submitted a list of 3 eminently qualified candidates with extensive resumes to the council ahead of the agreed upon timeline established by the council. The council placed that decision on the agenda…But after a last-minute push from the Riveters [Collective, a progressive nonprofit civic action group in Whatcom County] and others on the left hoping to realize a political advantage in delay, four council members caved and punted.”

The Riveters Collective did not respond to a request for comment.

“When folks in the north county are suffering from recent natural disasters, politics should take a back seat,” Kershner concluded.

Advertisement
Click for more information

 

Advertisement
Click for more information

 

Browne pushed back on the notion that the council was under any obligation to rush its pick for Ericksen’s replacement, referencing the Washington State Constitution.

“Whomever gets the appointment will have a significant advantage should they choose to later run for the election and may hold the position for a long time,” he said. “Which is likely why the drafters of the State Constitution believed allowing adequate time to choose the best replacement was more important than simply making a fast decision.”

Browne went on to say, “The Constitution allows up to 60 days after a vacancy has occurred for the Council to make the appointment.  The Republican party spent 14 of the 60 days to provide the Council three names.”

Buttressing his claim, he pointed to a previous appointment to a legislative vacancy.

Advertisement
Click for more information

 

Advertisement
Click for more information

 

“In comparison Senator [Kevin] Ranker resigned from the 40th [Legislative District] on January 9th, 2019 (well after the holidays and just before the legislative session started), and his constituents had no representation in the Senate for 28 days until his replacement was appointed on Feb. 5th,” Browne said. “Based on the current schedule it looks like the new 42nd senator will be seated in the legislature on January 11th (three days faster than the 40th appointment process) and only one day after the legislative session opens.”

Per state law, the local GOP organization – the Whatcom County Republican Party –submitted three candidates for the council to consider.

Those three candidates are Elenbaas, who represents the council’s 5th District, encompassing western Whatcom County, works at BP Cherry Point refinery, and is a farmer; Simon Sefzik, a Ferndale resident who recently graduated from a conservative Christian college and interned in Congress and the White House; and Tawsha Dykstra Thompson, a former sergeant with the Bellingham Police Department who left the force in December.

2 Comments

  1. Rebecca Meloy January 8, 2022

    As a voting member in the 42nd District, not one candidate represents me. All three are biased and dangerous to out community health.

    Dykstra left the local police embracing her freedom to not vacvinate or mask up.

    Sefzik, supported by the NRA via scholarships, worked for Ted Budd, a North Carolina Representative who owns a gun shop; is anti vax/mask for police; and was one of the 147 lawmakers to object to the certification of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in 1/6/2021.

    Elenbass is against a mask mandate.

  2. Marcy Mjelde January 8, 2022

    I am copying and pasting the words of Rebecca Meloy, as I completely concur.

    As a voting member in the 42nd District, not one candidate represents me. All three are biased and dangerous to out community health.

    Dykstra left the local police embracing her freedom to not vacvinate or mask up.

    Sefzik, supported by the NRA via scholarships, worked for Ted Budd, a North Carolina Representative who owns a gun shop; is anti vax/mask for police; and was one of the 147 lawmakers to object to the certification of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in 1/6/2021.

    Elenbass is against a mask mandate.

Comments are closed.

My custom footer text