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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Republican Sen. Ann Rivers will not seek another term in state Senate

Longtime legislator no longer lives in district she's represented since 2010 because of redistricting

By Dylan Jefferies, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 5, 2024, 12:18pm

Republican State Sen. Ann Rivers announced Friday she will not seek reelection to the state Senate.

The 18th District lawmaker’s decision was driven by an increase in her workload at the city of Longview, where she is assistant city manager, as well as a desire to spend more time with her family, according to a news release.

Rivers, of La Center, also no longer lives in the 18th District. After redistricting, La Center is now part of the 20th District, represented by incumbent Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Chehalis.

“Serving the people of Clark County has been such a privilege,” she said. “This was not an easy choice, but I believe in giving my all to those who have placed their trust in me for so many years. Although my ‘day job’ has been compatible with my legislative service to this point, I can’t promise that will be true going forward, so it’s time to step away.”

Rivers was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010 and was appointed to the Senate in mid-2012, where she served three terms.

As a legislator, she worked on establishing Washington’s medical and recreational marijuana laws; updated the state’s law on distracted driving; addressed a significant backlog of rape-kit processing; and negotiated the reform of the state’s school-funding system, in connection with the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling.

Rivers and former Republican Sen. Don Benton are also said to have killed the Columbia River Crossing, a previous project to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge.

She is a longtime member of the Senate’s budget and health care committees, where she has advocated for tax relief and protecting and increasing access to basic health care, particularly in rural Washington.

Rep. Greg Cheney, R-Battle Ground, who serves in the 18th District, announced on Friday his bid to succeed Rivers in the Senate. He will be running against Battle Ground City Council member and former mayor Adrian Cortes, as well as Republican Brad Benton.

Working in Longview

When Rivers went to work for Longview as community development director in October 2021, she announced her intent to step down from the Senate. She reversed her decision when city leaders worked with her to figure out how she could handle both positions.

“It turned out I was able to fulfill my commitments to both the city and the people of the 18th District, and I will be forever grateful for how Longview treated me then,” she said. “This isn’t the end of my public service — there is important work to do in Longview, and it’s a challenging time for the city. But it’s time to close the legislative chapter, at least for now, and I will do that knowing that I always put the people foremost when working on issues.”

Longview’s city government hasn’t been without challenges of late.

The Longview City Council fired City Manager Kris Swanson without cause March 13. The council then tapped retired Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha as interim city manager, breaking with the city’s history and possibly state law by not advancing a current city department leader.

Rivers has since assumed city manager duties that are time-sensitive or don’t create new budget impacts.

The council also introduced a resolution in February that proposed spending $30,000 to audit River’s work performance as assistant city manager, but there was no vote.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Republican Brad Benton is also running for the 18th District Washington state Senate seat.