State Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, announced Monday she is stepping down from the Legislature. The 18th District lawmaker has accepted a position as community development director for the city of Longview. According to a press release, Rivers will begin her new job this week.
Rivers said she has not yet decided when her final day as a senator will be, but she expects it will come before the 2022 legislative session begins in January.
“I wasn’t looking for a job — this one found me,” Rivers said in the press release. “The more I was drawn to this opportunity, the more it seemed clear there would be a choice to make. Being a senator is officially a part-time position, but it becomes full-time every January when a new session begins. Two full-time jobs would be a lot to handle, even if only for a matter of months each year.”
Rivers backed state Rep. Larry Hoff during his successful 2018 run for the House of Representative for the 18th District. Hoff said he applauded Rivers for taking the time to evaluate her life and making a “courageous” decision.
“I think it’s important for everybody to take a look at their own lives and make their own decisions, whether it’s in politics or out of politics,” Hoff said.
Still, he knows the Legislature will miss Rivers’ guidance and support.
“She played a very important role for the 18th District. Her seniority, her leadership capabilities were paramount to keeping Southwest Washington interests as a priority in Olympia. It’s going to be a loss, no doubt about that,” Hoff added.
Hoff also said he will not be seeking to fill Rivers’ seat and is excited to remain in the House.
Fellow Republican lawmaker Sen. John Braun, who represents the 20th District, said Rivers’ tireless work will be missed.
“Having served with Sen. Rivers for nine years, from a neighboring district, I know how hard she has worked for the people of the 18th District and our state. I also appreciate how she has been fearless in taking on our state’s most difficult problems, like the successful multiyear effort to come up with a new funding approach for our public K-12 schools,” Braun said in a written statement.
Braun said Rivers’ focus on finding solutions, rather than worrying about who gets the credit, leaves the Senate with a legacy of policies important to Washington’s residents.
“I was very much looking forward to another year with Sen. Rivers as the chair of our caucus, because of the experience and the energy she’s brought to that position. At the same time, this is a great opportunity for her to take on an important local leadership role in our region,” Braun said.
Even those working across the aisle from Rivers appreciated her contributions. In a tweet posted Monday afternoon, Lt. Gov. Denny Heck said, “Sen. Ann Rivers has been a powerful voice for Clark County in Olympia, and she will be greatly missed in the Senate.”
For Rivers, stepping away from the Legislature won’t be easy.
“Serving the people of the 18th District has been among the great privileges of my life. At the same time, I have long-standing ties to Longview and am very excited that my next role as a public servant will begin there,” she said.
Rivers was first elected to the 18th District in November 2010, serving two terms in the House of Representatives before her appointment to the Senate in June 2012. She won a full four-year Senate term in 2012 and was reelected in 2016 and 2020.
She has also served on the Senate Republican Caucus’ senior leadership team during a majority of her time in the Senate, moving up to the No. 2 position of caucus chair for the 2021 session.
The Republican central committee from Clark County now will nominate three candidates to replace Rivers, and the Clark County Council will choose who will serve until the November 2022 election. The candidate who wins during that election will serve the remainder of Rivers’ term.
“Some of the answer depends on the effective date, and I don’t think she has announced that yet,” Clark County Councilor Gary Medvigy said. “But generally, I would hope the process replicates what steps the local party took to fill the vacancy for the 4th District county council position. … My hope is that there is an earnest effort to identify the best slate of candidates.”