State Rep. Jacks resigns

Replacement will be chosen by county commissioners

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

Updated: March 25, 2011, 7:15 PM

 
photoJim Jacks

State Rep. Jim Jacks resigned his 49th District seat on Friday, effective immediately.

Jacks, 41, cited personal reasons and said he did not want to publicly discuss the details.

The Democrat was re-elected in November to serve a second two-year term.

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, issued a statement Friday: “Rep. Jacks has been a good legislator for the people of his district and a productive member of our caucus. However, we understand his decision to put his family first, and we are accepting that decision.”

The Board of County Commissioners will appoint a replacement.

Following a process spelled out in Article II, section 15 of the state Constitution, commissioners will receive a list of three names from the Clark County Democratic Central Committee.

Replacements must live in the same district and be members of the same political party.

The appointee will have to run in November’s general election to fill out the term, which runs through 2012.

While commissioners have 60 days to make an appointment, Commissioner Steve Stuart said Friday he wants an expedited process.

Stuart, a Democrat who serves with Republicans Marc Boldt and Tom Mielke, said he’s trying to arrange a Monday evening meeting with precinct committee officers from the 49th District. Stuart, who is one of those precinct committee officers, said he wants the list of three names quickly so commissioners can make the appointment next week.

“My push will be to get it done,” Stuart said, adding that he’s not interested in applying.

Stuart said the people of the 49th District deserve full representation on the serious issues being debated in Olympia right now.

Jacks, he said, has served the community well.

“We thank Jim for his service, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family,” Stuart said.

The 49th District covers much of Vancouver west of Interstate 205 and some areas north of the city, including Hazel Dell.

Temple Lentz, who ran Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt’s campaign when Leavitt unseated Royce Pollard, said she’s considering applying for the appointment but has not decided.

(Pollard made it clear he would not be applying: “I have no interest in any elected office for the foreseeable future,” he said.)

A spokeswoman for Craig Riley, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for the other 49th District House seat last year, said Riley will consider running in November against the appointee.

‘A rising star’

While it didn’t take long for people to start contemplating about who will apply, others wanted to take time to say kind words about Jacks, who was described as an effective legislator.

Sen. Craig Pridemore and State Rep. Jim Moeller, both D-Vancouver, said Friday that they will miss working with him.

They said his ability to track details on the capital budget was particularly helpful.

“I will miss Jim tremendously,” said Moeller. “But I thoroughly understand and support him in wanting to put his family first.”

Jacks and his wife, Brenda, have two daughters.

Jacks was vice chair of the Technology, Energy & Communications committee and also served on the capital budget, environment and higher education committees. As assistant majority whip for the Democratic caucus, he’d have to round up lawmakers to make sure they got their votes in.

Pridemore said Jacks was regarded as a rising star in Olympia.

After he was re-elected in November (he defeated Republican challenger Bill Cismar, winning 57 percent of the vote), Jacks said the win did not come easy.

He said he went door-to-door every day in the two weeks leading up to the election, knocking on 1,487 doors and walking 93 miles.

“It just shows, if you work real­ly hard and hear what they have to say on their doorstep, I think they’ll vote for you,” Jacks said last year.

Jacks said he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and used that for the benefit of Clark County residents. For example, he worked with other legislators to keep Larch Corrections Center open and helped win reinstatement of a program to crack down on vehicle-license scofflaws.

“We’ve had some very good wins in this community,” he said last year.

In a brief interview Friday morning, Jacks said one of his proudest accomplishments as a lawmaker was helping secure funding for a state-of-the-art electrical engineering building on the Washington State University Vancouver campus to train future technology innovators.

Before taking office, Jacks was Gov. Chris Gregoire’s liaison in Southwest Washington.

Previously he worked as a citizen advocate for the city of Vancouver.

Jacks works as a business development specialist at MacKay & Sposito, a Vancouver engineering and planning firm. President Tim Schauer said Friday that Jacks takes a leave of absence when the Legislature is in session. Jacks is scheduled to return to work in May.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.