Democratic officials in the 49th District have put the brakes on filling the vacancy created by the March 25 resignation of Rep. Jim Jacks.
Mike Heywood, chairman of the 49th Legislative District Democratic Central Committee, said Friday it’s likely precinct committee officers won’t choose three finalists from the field of nine candidates when they meet Monday evening, and they may not even hear speeches from the candidates.
That’s because some elected officials, including state Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, and Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart, have urged a slow-down of the process, Heywood said.
Initially, “my preference was to do it quickly because that was what the leaders in the party wanted,” Heywood said. “I’m no longer pressing for quick. The thing is, they don’t need the vote in Olympia. As that has become more of a shared opinion, the pressure for speed is off.”
Any decision to delay the selection until May 9, the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Clark County Democratic Central Committee, would need to be approved by two-thirds of the district’s 25 PCOs, Heywood said.
Meanwhile, Clark County commissioners, who had set aside time next Tuesday to hear from the candidates and make the appointment, canceled those plans Friday morning.
“We decided that with eight candidates, and the PCOs making their decision Monday night, it made sense to postpone,” said Axel Swanson, senior policy analyst for the commissioners. Informed later that the party likely won’t select finalists Monday, he said the commissioners will wait to hear from party officials before rescheduling their interviews and the appointment.
Moeller told The Columbian last week that he didn’t see a need to rush the appointment because most of the work of the 2011 Legislature is done. The session is scheduled to adjourn April 24.
“I don’t’ know that we need to rush, quite honesty,” he said. The appointee “will vote on the budget and that’s about it.”
“I think our strategy is to put forward our best candidates,” Moeller said. “You have to have some time to meet with the PCOs. There’s more on the line than just a five-minute speech and a vote.”
To give the PCOs more time to get to know the candidates, Heywood scheduled interviews with candidates by a review board for 7 p.m. Friday at the Teamsters Labor Hall, 2212 N.E. Andresen Road. The candidates also have been invited to attend the regular 49th Legislative District meeting beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Teamsters hall.
Meanwhile, Brian Beecher, a 31-year-old quality control manager for Burke Electric, a Bellevue-based energy company, has added his name to the list of candidates seeking appointment to the 49th District seat. Beecher is a former member of the Washougal City Council and ran for the Legislature in the 18th District in 2004. He has since moved to Vancouver. In addition to his job with Burke Electric, he works as a substitute teacher in Clark County schools. .
“I am running because I want to ensure the seat stays in Democratic hands,” Beecher said in an email.