Democrats on Monday night made Federal Way School Board president Carol Gregory their first choice to replace the late Roger Freeman in the state House.
Cancer took Freeman’s life Oct. 29, days before he won re-election.
The King and Pierce county councils could pick Gregory to serve the waning days of Freeman’s term plus another year. Or they could disregard the Democrats’ preference — as both councils have been willing to do in the past — in favor of one of Democrats’ other picks, second choice Richard Champion or third choice Shari Song.
Gregory, a retired teacher, led the Washington Education Association teachers union and ran twice unsuccessfully for the Legislature before her election to the School Board.
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“I’ve seen it all. I understand the issues,” Gregory said as she ticked off her résumé to Democratic officials.
And at 71, she said: “I’ve heard that I’m too old. Well, I am (four years) older than Hillary Clinton and (one year) younger than Joe Biden.”
When a vacancy opens in the Legislature, the former lawmaker’s political party nominates three candidates to be appointed as a replacement until the next election. A county board or boards then vote. If they can’t decide, the governor makes the call.
Pierce County makes up just a sliver of the 30th District, but the two councils may be given equal weight in voting. If so, the votes of Republicans on the two councils will slightly outweigh those of Democrats. No timeline or procedures for the appointment had been set as of Monday, the King County Council clerk said.
Democratic precinct committee officers made the nominations Monday evening, which were confirmed by a state party committee.
A single vote clinched the top spot for Gregory, who won 15 votes to Champion’s 14 in a runoff.
Champion, a chemical engineer by training who has been working on roofing jobs and the SeaTac campaign for a $15 minimum wage, won Democrats’ second-ranked position without a runoff.
Song, a real-estate agent who lost a state Senate race last month to Republican Mark Miloscia, won the third-ranked position in a runoff with Roger Flygare, a court-reporting agency owner.
The other two candidates were Hope Elder, a former Federal Way city councilwoman, and nurse Rose Edwards.