UPDATE: Pike chosen to finish Rivers' House term

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

Updated: August 23, 2012, 7:20 PM

 
photoLiz Pike, Position 2 state House candidate in the 18th District

KELSO — Republican legislative candidate Liz Pike was appointed Thursday to finish the final months of an 18th District state House term.

The appointment, which was decided by a 4-2 vote of Clark and Cowlitz county commissioners, did not match the Republican Party’s top pick, former Clark County Republican Chairman Brandon Vick.

Vick is running unopposed in November for the Position 1 House seat that Pike will now occupy.

Pike is on the November ballot as the Republican candidate for the other 18th District House seat, running against David Shehorn. That seat is currently filled by Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, who due to redistricting now lives in the 20th Legislative District.

Precinct committee officers from Clark and Cowlitz counties had selected Pike as a second option to succeed Ann Rivers, who was recently named to the Senate. Their third choice was Peter Silliman, who was a write-in candidate against Vick in the primary but did not receive enough votes to get on the November ballot.

Commissioners who selected Pike instead of Vick said they were impressed with her prior experience as an elected official.

When asked how she would reach out to constituents in the 18th District through the interim appointment, Pike pointed to the five town halls she’s hosted during her campaign as well as the outreach she did while serving on the Camas City Council.

“There’s a lot of things that, when you run for office, you don’t realize you’re getting into, and my eyes are wide open on constituent work,” Pike told commissioners. “I know that right now there is a whole big pile of constituent work that Ann Rivers needs help on. … I have a lot of experience with that.”

During Silliman’s interview with the commissioners, he acknowledged that there was no chance of him getting elected to the Position 1 seat, and he endorsed Pike for the appointment.

In the end, Cowlitz County Commissioner George Raiter and Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke voted for Vick, while the rest selected Pike.

Raiter said he thought Vick was a slightly stronger candidate while Mielke noted that Vick had a successful showing in the Aug. 7 primary election in the race for Rivers’ old seat.

“I wanted to respect those votes,” Mielke said. “This is the position Brandon is running for.”

The 18th District dominoes started falling in May, when longtime Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, resigned. In May, Republican Rep. Rivers was appointed as interim state senator. Upon taking the Senate appointment, Rivers had to resign from her job in the House. Rivers is running this November to keep that Senate seat and has one opponent in the race, Democrat Ralph Schmidt.

Following Thursday’s decision by county commissioners, Vick said he looks forward to working with Pike in her new role.

“I think it was great we had such strong candidates today,” Vick said of himself, Pike and Silliman. “I was humbled by the votes I’ve been able to receive today.”

Pike served on the Camas City Council from 2003 to 2007. She unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Camas Mayor Paul Dennis in 2007. She has owned the Pike Advertising Agency since 1995, and she operates a sustainable farm in Fern Prairie called Shangri-La Farm.

Pike will serve in office until the representative selected by voters in November’s general election takes the helm. The Position 2 seat she’s running for is currently occupied by Orcutt, R-Kalama, who no longer qualifies to run in the 18th District because of 2010 Census redistricting.

The new voting district lines drawn for the 2012 elections push the 18th District out of Cowlitz County, but Cowlitz County commissioners still are involved in the 18th District appointment process because those new voter boundaries haven’t kicked in yet.

Republican Adrian Cortes is listed on the Aug. 7 primary ballot to run against Vick, but he has since dropped out of the race.

State legislators earn an annual salary of $42,106, plus per diem while on state business.