Jamie Stephens will not secede from San Juan County Council to fill the state senate seat.
Stephens, council member for District 3 – Lopez, announced last week that he hoped to fill the position left vacant when Sen. Ranker, D-Orcas, resigned on Jan. 11. According to state Democrats parliamentarian rules, however, he would have to resign his council position by Feb. 2.
“Attorneys are looking into [the legalities of the rule],” Stephens said, and he added that he is hoping the state Democrats will change their position.
On Feb. 2, Whatcom County, Skagit and San Juan Democrat precinct committee officers will select three people, which will then be submitted to county council members to vote on. The 40th District Democrats website describes the nominating process. It states, “Advisory from the State Party parliamentarian RE: the candidacy of sitting county council/commissioners in Whatcom, Skagit or San Juan. In order to be considered for nomination, they must resign their county office prior to Feb. 2.”
Stephens would not be the only potential candidate affected by this policy. Whatcom County Councilman Rud Browne has also stated he wished to be a contender.
Stephens told the Journal that he had hoped to step into the position because he believes it would be good for the community to have someone from San Juan County fill it, and that through his work as a county councilman he understands the issues as well as the political system.
“It’s a policy (requiring current county council to resign) that has been used by both parties to eliminate the competition,” Stephens stated. As a result, stronger candidates are often weeded out, he added.
In this instance, for example, there are currently five potential nominees. Should Stephens and Browne be taken out of the running, the list automatically becomes three, the exact number needed for the county councils to vote on.
“I will keep poking at this for another week,” Stephens said. If it does not appear that the 40th District Democrats will change their position, he will take his name out of the running.