Rep. Jessyn Farrell, who has represented northeast Seattle’s 46th Legislative district since 2012, will step down from her seat in the state House to focus on her recently-announced campaign for Seattle mayor.
The news came in a press release Tuesday that emphasized the candidate’s policy priorities, which include housing affordability, protecting the city’s social safety net, environment, and transportation (before Farrell was a state representative, she led the advocacy group Transportation Choices Coalition). On Wednesday, she’ll be flanked by colleagues and supporters at the University District Food Bank as she makes a more detailed pitch.
“She wants to go full in; she is fully committed to this race,” says Lily Eriksen, Farrell’s campaign manager. “And the only way to do that is really to step down. It was a difficult decision. She’s loved being a state representative.”
Farrell’s departure will cut the House’s slender Democratic majority from two votes to one — making the ratio now 49 to 48 — during a second special session crunch with plenty of heavy budget wrangling left to go. But her campaign insists that she’s not leaving her Democratic colleagues in the lurch — a notion perhaps emphasized by the fact that three Democratic state reps plan to join her at the announcement Wednesday, including two from Seattle: Rep. Nicole Macri and Rep. Noel Frame. “She’s done a lot of work talking to people to make sure that the Democrats and the [46th] district aren’t going to be hamstrung,” says Eriksen. Although not every single Democrat knew about the decision until it started appearing on Twitter late Tuesday, Farrell “has worked and met with the relevant people about this to make sure that it’s OK, to make sure that it’s done in the right way.”
Sources in Olympia confirm that her departure won’t have much of an impact on the legislature this late in the game. While Washington Democrats might have felt differently back in February, when controversial bills demanded every vote, pretty much everything that’s being worked on and passed right now, during the second round of overtime, is bipartisan.
There are three weeks left to go in the session, which should give lawmakers plenty of time to replace Farrell’s seat. That process, in brief: The Democratic Party’s local precinct committee officers (PCOs) select three nominees, which they submit, in order of preference, to the King County Council for consideration. According to Michael Maddux, Vice Chair of the King County Democrats, the PCOs are on track to make their selections on Saturday, June 10. The Council could vote on them as soon as the following Monday, and voila, the state House has a new representative. So, it might be down to the wire, but either way, Washington Democrats aren’t worried. Save that for the government shutdown.