Why Run For Office When You Can Get Appointed? Well, Here's a Reason

Zack Hudgins wants to be your next appointed King County Councilmember.
Running for office is hard. All that signature-gathering and fundraising and baby-kissing--just the thought is exhausting enough to turn most people off. It's so much easier to wait for someone to leave their seat (or just kick the bucket) and then get yourself appointed.

That's how newly-elected King County Executive Dow Constantine first made it onto the County Council: He was tapped by Greg Nickels after Nickels was elected mayor of Seattle in 2000.

But lately, it just isn't as much fun getting appointed to office, as demonstrated in the county council chambers today.

When Ron Sims left his job as King County Executive to join the Obama Administration earlier this year, the county council voted in Kurt Triplett as his successor--but prohibited him from running to keep the job in this year's election. Being a lame duck was part of Triplett's condition of employment. Now the council is thinking of doing the same thing for Dow's replacement.

Under legislation introduced this morning by council member Bob Ferguson, who is taking over from Constantine as Council Chair, a panel would interview council hopefuls and forward evaluations of the best candidates to the council. Then there'd be a council vote. Ferguson says the chosen candidate would also have to promise not to seek reelection to the seat.

Ferguson says he doesn't want to give someone the unearned advantage of incumbency. "Let people fight it out on the election side," he says.

That may come as a disappointment to current hopefuls for the job. Ferguson says two state legislators--Representative Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila and Senator Joe McDermott, D-Seattle--have expressed interest. (Neither immediately returned messages left today.) For Seattle politicians, the county council is a higher-paying, higher-profile gig than the state house. But if they can only hold the job for a few months, they might be decidedly less interested.

It used to be that party officials in the exiting member's district picked the replacement, and the council then rubber-stamped the choice. That's the system under which Dow moved from the state house to the council. But in 2008, by a voter initiative, the King County Council offices became non-partisan and that party-based system was scrapped.

Ideally, Ferguson says, the council will vote on a new member by Nov. 30, shortly after Constantine takes the Executive office on Nov. 24. Constantine's district "should not go without a representative for more than a couple weeks," he says.

Of course, Triplett would appear to be the most logical choice. Being a permanent lame duck--and brutal truth-teller--isn't something he seems to mind.

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