June Robinson appointed to state House seat

County Council members say each of the three women would have been good choices for the position.

June Robinson

June Robinson

By Jerry Cornfield, The Herald

EVERETT — June Robinson of Everett became Snohomish County’s newest member of the state House of Representatives on Monday.

The Snohomish County Council voted unanimously to appoint Robinson, a Democrat, to replace Rep. John McCoy who became a state senator last month.

She took the oath of office immediately after the council’s decision.

“I am very excited,” she said. “I will go there and work hard to serve the people of the 38th Legislative District.”

The appointment will last until she or another candidate is certified as the winner in the 2014 general election.

Robinson’s selection had been anticipated since she emerged from a pack of seven candidates as the top choice of the party on Dec. 10.

That night she finished ahead of Jennifer Smolen of Marysville and Deborah Parker of Tulalip in the final round of balloting by the district’s precinct committee officers.

County Council members interviewed the three nominees before voting 5-0 to install Robinson in the $42,106-a-year job representing residents in Everett, Tulalip and a slice of Marysville.

Smolen, an Iraq war veteran, worked as an aide for state Sen. Steve Hobbs in 2011 and then for Snohomish County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright in late 2011 and early 2012.

Parker is the elected vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes. She formerly worked as legislative policy analyst for the tribes.

Republican Councilman John Koster, a former state lawmaker, praised the talents of the three women, calling them “the best group of people we’ve ever interviewed” for a political appointment.

“This was probably one of the most difficult decisions this council has had,” he said.

Councilman Brian Sullivan, a Democrat and another onetime legislator, described the trio as an “an all-star cast.”

And Councilman Dave Somers, also a Democrat, said the three women are shining examples of public service and each would be a star in the Legislature.

Robinson has spent her career involved in programs dealing with human services and community health care. She told the council she would like to serve on House committees that deal with those issues.

She’s worked as a program manager for King County Public Health since 2012 and said she’ll take a leave of absence when the Legislature begins its 60-day regular session in January.

She formerly served as executive director of the Housing Consortium of Everett and Snohomish County which focuses on expanding affordable housing in the community.

She also is a member of the city of Everett’s Salary Commission and its Human Needs Committee. And she is on the steering committee of the Northwest Neighborhood Association.

Robinson ran unsuccessfully for Everett City Council in 2011 and 2012. She had been seeking an open seat on the council until Sen. Nick Harper resigned in early November.

When it seemed clear either McCoy or state Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, would be chosen to fill Harper’s seat, she ended her council pursuit to focus on securing whichever seat opened. She said a number of people encouraged her to do so, including House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle.

Robinson is married and has two sons who are both in college.

Everett’s Robinson likely to become newest member of state House

By Jerry Cornfield, The Herald, December 12, 2013

Democrats are hoping the die is cast for June Robinson, of Everett, to become a member of the state House of Representatives next week.

Robinson emerged Tuesday night as the party’s top choice to fill the 38th Legislative District seat John McCoy vacated when he moved to the Senate.

She finished ahead of Jennifer Smolen of Marysville and Deborah Parker of Tulalip in balloting by the district’s precinct committee officers.

On Monday, the Snohomish County Council will interview the three nominees, then appoint one to represent residents in Everett, Tulalip and a slice of Marysville through the 2014 election.

The four Democrats and one Republican on the County Council are expected to respect the wishes of the party members and Robinson could be sworn in Monday afternoon.

Robinson’s resume of community service is impressive and she’s got a track record of involvement in the Democratic Party. And she racked up endorsements for the appointment from lawmakers like McCoy and Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, as well as former Sen. Nick Harper.

Yet the next few days could be interesting, should Smolen, Parker or both be of the mind to try and persuade County Council members to buck the party activists.

Parker entered the competition at the quiet urging of U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Those are good friends to have if they’ll make a phone call on your behalf.

And Smolen did work alongside council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright last year and state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the year before that. She knows how politics is played in Snohomish County and Olympia.

Though each can make a case for themselves to the council these next few days, they’ll probably need to wait to make it for voters next year if they really want the job.

All signs point to the die being cast for Robinson becoming the newest member of the Legislature.

A little ways south, a race is starting to take shape for a seat in the 21st Legislative District.

State Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, intends to retire when his term ends in 2014 and Rep. Marko Liias, D-Everett, is campaigning with a full head of steam to replace him.

That means Liias’ seat will be opening up in the district which encompasses Edmonds, Lynnwood and south Everett. Like the 38th, it has a history of electing Democrats.

Lillian Ortiz-Self, of Mukilteo, is a Democrat who has wasted little time in pursuing it. She launched her campaign in late October and hauled in a little more than $5,000 in contributions in the first few hours.

This is her first bid for state office but the Everett High School counselor is no political novice.

She is in her second term on Washington’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs and serves on separate committees dealing with the issues of discipline, academic achievement and educational opportunities in the public schools system.

On the Republican side, Jeff Thorp said he is gearing up to run.

Thorp, who was just elected to a third term on the Mukilteo School Board, would be making his second bid for state office. He lost to Mike Cooper in 2002 and contemplated a run against former Rep. Brian Sullivan in 2004 then decided against it.

With the prospect of an open seat, more candidates are expected to step up before the filing deadline next May.