Pierce, Kitsap councils appoint 2 from South Sound to state Legislature

Staff writerJanuary 17, 2014 

Jesse Young


The South Sound has two new representatives in the state Legislature, with Friday’s appointments of Rep. Jesse Young of Gig Harbor and Rep. Graham Hunt of Orting.

Young, a business consultant, won appointment to the House seat in the 26th Legislative District previously held by Jan Angel.

Pierce County Council members and Kitsap County commissioners unanimously selected Young. They praised him for his breadth of knowledge on issues, his plans for what he would do in office, and his campaign experience to help him keep the job when it goes to the ballot later this year.

Young, 37, was sworn-in Friday afternoon and plans to take his seat in the Legislature Monday.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” he said.

He said he wants to focus on bringing more jobs to the district, including technology positions. He said transportation, education and mental health are top issues.

“He was the most detailed in his answers to what he would do once he was in the office,” said Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.

Young will fill out the year left in Angel’s term in the state House, joining the Republican minority there.

Angel, of Port Orchard, moved to the Senate after winning an expensive special election against Sen. Nathan Schlicher last November.

Young went into Friday’s joint meeting of the council and commissioners as the top choice from the GOP’s slate of three nominees.

State law calls for an appointee from the party of the lawmaker being replaced.

Gig Harbor filmmaker Adam Berman was the second choice in December of more than 50 local Republican Party officers. He did not attend Friday’s meeting because of a schedule conflict. He was in Tacoma shooting a pilot for a show, said supporter Matt Finn, who read a statement from Berman at the meeting in the Gig Harbor Civic Center.

Gig Harbor lawyer Doug Cloud was the third choice of Republicans to represent the district that runs from Bremerton to the Tacoma Narrows Bridges. Cloud cited the importance of transportation improvements, including state Route 167 and access to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Young won bipartisan support from the Democratic Kitsap County commissioners and the Republican-controlled Pierce County Council.

County Councilman Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma, praised Young for his breadth of knowledge. And Council Chairman Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, said he liked Young’s campaign experience and his organization in place for retaining the position.

Young said he will run in November to serve a full two-year term. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010 and 2012.

Young, who sometimes lived homeless while growing up in Tacoma, graduated from Wilson High School and the University of Notre Dame. He has worked in information technology, consulting for major corporations. He currently consults for the health care industry in California.

Young, his wife, Jennifer, and their five children watched from the back of the room as the vote was taken.

Afterward, Young paused to celebrate. He took the family out for pizza and ice cream.

Later in the day, the Pierce County Council members traveled south to DuPont and joined with their counterparts from Thurston County to fill another legislative opening: the 2nd District seat formerly held by Rep. Gary Alexander.

Alexander ran a losing campaign last year for state auditor, during which he pledged to relinquish his House seat if he lost.

The joint group selected Hunt, an Orting city councilman and owner of an insurance agency. The other two GOP nominees were Matt Hamilton of Graham and Andrew Barkis of Olympia.

“We had a tough decision with three exceptional candidates,” said Thurston County Commission chair Karen Valenzuela.

The vote to appoint Hunt was 8-0, with Pierce councilmen Jim McCune and Stan Flemming abstaining. Flemming said he couldn’t decide, and McCune declined to vote because he had worked closely with two of the candidates.

At the meeting, Hunt said he believed his military experience gave him an edge over the other candidates.

“I’m a 10-year veteran, in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “You’re taught that leadership is not just taking the lead, but it’s also (knowing) when to follow.”

Hunt, 34, said he plans to leave his City Council seat, otherwise “I wouldn’t be serving either side.” He also will have to run in November’s election to keep his seat.

Hamilton, who was Republican officials’ top choice, said he’ll file to run for the position.

Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647
Staff writer Lisa Pemberton contributed to this report.

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