Local Republican officials want the Pierce and King county councils to appoint newly elected state Rep. Phil Fortunato to replace former state Sen. Pam Roach.
Roach, R-Sumner, resigned from the Legislature this week to join the Pierce County Council, after serving 26 years as the state senator for the 31st Legislative District.
Fortunato, R-Auburn, was Roach’s favored successor, as well as the top choice of precinct committee officers who met late Tuesday to decide the list of three names to send the county councils.
The councils will make the final appointment from among the three candidates at a meeting Saturday in Fife. State law requires a Republican must be appointed to the position.
Never miss a local story.
The joint King and Pierce council meeting will be held 10 a.m. at Fife City Hall, 5411 23rd St E.
In drawing up the list Tuesday, party officials passed over 31st District House member Rep. Drew Stokesbary, who they criticized as too liberal for the district.
Roach and others pointed to Stokesbary’s support of a recent transportation tax package as evidence he isn’t conservative enough for the right-leaning district.
In 2015, Stokesbary, R-Auburn, supported raising the state’s gas tax by 11.9 cents per gallon to generate about $16 billion for transportation projects.
“Phil doesn’t vote for taxes. His main opponent has done that,” Roach said in a speech supporting Fortunato over Stokesbary.
Fortunato, 63, served one term in the state House from 1999 to 2001 before losing his seat. He was elected to the state House again in November.
Also Tuesday, 31st District officers chose David Patrick, a 70-year-old retired engineer from Bonney Lake, as their second choice to succeed Roach in the Senate. The precinct committee officers named 59-year-old Cheryl Marshall, who served 10 years as Roach’s legislative assistant and is now her county council aide, as their third choice.
Stokesbary, 31, was re-elected to the state House in November after winning his first term in 2014. He said he supported the gas-tax increase in 2015 to fund much-needed highway improvements.
The transportation tax package included important language to prevent Gov. Jay Inslee from enacting a clean fuel standard that would have hiked gas prices even higher, Stokesbary said. Some estimated that a low-carbon fuel standard — which the Democratic governor at one point supported — would have raised gas prices by about $1 a gallon.
“The reality of 21st century governing is almost no issue is black and white,” Stokesbary said.
Fortunato said his priority is finding ways to use government resources more efficiently instead of raising taxes.
“If you take your time and look at it, there’s a lot of money ... you’ve just got to find it,” Fortunato said.
The 31st District precinct committee officers also selected three nominees to replace Fortunato in the state House, should Fortunato soon be appointed to the Senate.
Those nominees for the potential House vacancy are, in order of preference:
- Sharon Hanek, 60, a tax accountant who recently chaired the Pierce County Charter Review Commission
- Morgan Irwin, 33, a Seattle police officer and member of the Enumclaw City Council
- Ted DeVol, 58, a motocross racing promoter and manufacturer of aluminum racing products from Enumclaw
The King and Pierce County councils are prepared to vote on Fortunato’s replacement Saturday if he is selected to fill Roach’s seat.
The councils’ votes are weighted because the nine-member King County Council has two more members than the seven-member Pierce council. Democrats hold the majority between the councils, with one more vote than the Republicans under the weighted system.
The 31st Legislative District straddles the King and Pierce county line, and includes the communities of Auburn, Edgewood, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Bonney Lake, Enumclaw, Buckley, South Prairie, Wilkeson and Carbonado.
Staff writer Brynn Grimley contributed to this report.