The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners and the Pierce County Council Thursday morning picked Nathan Schlicher, an emergency room doctor from Gig Harbor, to replace Derek Kilmer in the state Senate.
Kilmer was elected to Congress in November, replacing longtime 6th District Rep. Norm Dicks, who retired at the end of the last legislative session.
Last month, local Democrats selected Schlicher as their top choice to serve a year in the state Senate, filling Kilmer's seat in the 26th District. The two runners-up were Todd Iverson, a longshoreman who sits on the Peninsula Metropolitan Board of Directors, and analyst and former pilot Gerry Baldwin of Gig Harbor.
Schlicher and Iverson were at the joint meeting, with both answering a fusillade of questions from commissioners and board members. Topics touched on included health care (including mental health), education, transportation, economic development and the state budget.
Baldwin was unable to attend.
By law, commissioners and board members had to pick Schlicher or one to two runners-up.
Schlicer, who described himself as a nonpartisan issues advocate, said he didn't believe state government was doing enough to meet the needs of people, especially with regard to health care.
"These are the people we see every day that we fail," he said of his time working as an emergency room physician, where he indicated financial realities and bureaucratic red tap are often obstacles to providing the required care. "I do believe that we can do better."
Democrat Schlicher said he was confident in his ability to work with Republicans in the state Senate.
"I hope that we will be able to get real work done," he said.
Schlicher's appointment is important, given that a coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats have taken control of the Senate by a margin of 25-23, not including the seat Schlcher takes over.
Schlicher will serve during the current 105-day legislative session, then will have to run again in November to retain the seat in 2014. State Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, has already announced her intention to run this fall.
The combined panel of Kitsap County commissioners and Pierce county council members voted 8-1 to approve Schlicher. All three Kitsap County commissioners voted for Schlicher; the lone vote against Schlicher was cast by Stan Flemming of Pierce County. Pierce County Council member Jim McCune abstained.
Look for a more detailed story in next week's edition of the Gateway.