Wednesday, March 29, 2023
March 29, 2023

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Two more making bid to replace Jim Jacks

Eight now vying for appointment to vacant legislative seat


Two more candidates have jumped into the contest to replace Democratic state Rep. Jim Jacks in the 49th Legislative District, and one person who was considering the race has backed out.

Jacks, who was serving his second term representing the 49th District, resigned from the Legislature on March 25, citing personal reasons that he declined to disclose.

Ryan Topper, 37, former director of development for the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, and Cal Meek, 67, a retired businessman and adjunct professor of business, are the new entries in the race. Their announcements bring the field to eight candidates.

More could enter the contest, right up until Monday evening. Democratic precinct committee officers from the 49th will choose three finalists for the opening at their regular meeting at 8 p.m. Monday at the Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union Hall, 1205 Ingalls St. From that field of candidates, Clark County commissioners will make the appointment to fill out the first year of Jacks’ term. The appointee will have to run in the November general election to keep the seat.

The 49th District covers Vancouver west of I-205 and unincorporated Hazel Dell.

Topper has lived in Vancouver for the past decade and served as assistant director of development for the WSU Athletic Foundation from 2001 to 2009. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Washington State University.

A political newcomer, he said he hopes to work on job creation and sustainable economic recovery if appointed to the Legislature and supports investments to modernize public infrastructure and advance mass transit.

“It’s an opportunity that has presented itself,” Topper said. “I’m passionate about my community.”

Meek, a resident of the 49th District since 1997, worked for several companies during a long career in business. He was an employee of Freightliner, now Daimler Trucks of North America, from 1998 to January 2009, and also owned his own systems and networking company in Arizona for eight years.

A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he served in the active and reserve Navy, from which he retired as a captain. He serves as an adjunct professor of business at Washington State University Vancouver and Clark College.

“I feel I bring the appropriate balance of business, education, and life experience needed to provide effective leadership and results for the people of the 49th Legislative District and the state of Washington,” Meek said.

If appointed to the seat, he said, he would focus on bringing new businesses and jobs to the Vancouver area and work to improve secondary and higher education.

Monica Stonier, a middle school teacher who ran for the Legislature in the 17th District in 2010, was considering entering the race last week. But she said Tuesday she is in the process of moving her family into the 49th and decided this was not the time to launch another political campaign.

“It’s way too much to put on the line for my family,” she said.

Other candidates who remain in the race are:

• Nicholas Ferderer, 22, a senior and a former student body president at Washington State University Vancouver, who serves as Democratic precinct committee officer and state committeeman for the 49th District.

• Peter Khalil, 29, a resident of Vancouver since July, who operates a mediation service and serves as president of the Harney Heights Neighborhood Association.

• Temple Lentz, 35, a political consultant who managed Tim Leavitt’s successful 2009 Vancouver mayoral campaign and is active in Leadership Clark County.

• Mike Teefy, 64, a retired Social Security Administration administrator who has long been active in Clark County Democratic politics and labor issues.

• Sharon Wylie, 61, a former two-term member of the Oregon House of Representatives and former lobbyist in Olympia, where she represented several local government clients, including Clark County.

• Jeremy Zegas, 28, a staff assistant to state Sen. Craig Pridemore, who previously worked on Pridemore’s congressional campaign and on the Clark County commissioner campaigns of Steve Stuart and Pam Brokaw.