Liias, Ortiz-Self appointed to 21st District

By Sara Bruestle | Feb 05, 2014

As expected, Rep. Marko Liias last week was appointed to replace Paull Shin in the state Senate.

Liias was the Democrats’ sole choice for senator of the 21st Legislative District after Shin resigned this month for health reasons.

He was appointed by the Snohomish County Council Jan. 21 and sworn in on Jan. 22.

“It’s humbling to fill the shoes of someone like Paull Shin, who has been a friend and a mentor to me,” Liias said. “It’s a little bittersweet in that aspect.”

Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson and Edmonds City Councilmember Strom Peterson also were nominated, but both endorsed Liias and said they would not accept appointment to the Senate.

The County Council also unanimously appointed Democrats’ first choice Lillian Ortiz-Self to Liias’ seat in the House. She was also sworn in on Jan. 22.

“I’m very humbled and honored to represent the 21st District and follow in the footsteps of Marko Liias and continue to work hard,” Ortiz-Self said. “This is my passion.”

Also nominated to the House were second choice Darrell Chapman, president of the Snohomish County Labor Council and third choice Susan Phillips, president of the Edmonds School Board.

Liias and Ortiz-Self serve the 21st District, which includes all of Mukilteo, and parts of Edmonds, Lynnwood, Everett and unincorporated Snohomish County.

Their appointments are good through the November election, and both said they will run for full terms then.

Although Liias was their sole choice, Snohomish County Democrats nominated two placeholder nominees to meet the constitutional requirement.

The Washington State Constitution requires the Democratic Party to submit a list of three nominees to the Snohomish County Council for appointment.

Shin resigned on Jan. 7 from the Senate, citing health issues that include a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. He had planned to retire at the end of his term in 2014.

Liias, 32, of south Everett, said he will work to move Shin’s agenda forward in the Senate.

“I’ve been concerned over the last couple of years with the gridlock we’ve seen in the Senate,” he said. “It felt like we needed someone who could work across the aisle in a bipartisan way to move the ball forward on critical issues in the 21st District.

“Based on my record in the House over last six years, I felt like I could contribute.”

His priorities for the 21st District include education, transportation and the environment.

“Transportation is clearly an important issue,” he said. In Mukilteo, “we’ve got a ferry terminal that needs to be completed, we’ve got a park-and-ride that’s under study. We want to make sure we’ve got the funds for that.”

Liias was appointed to the House in 2008 and has been re-elected three times. He replaced Brian Sullivan, who resigned after he was elected to the County Council.

He was elected to the Mukilteo City Council in 2005, where he served for two years. He also volunteers with the Kamiak High School Debate Program and is a board member of the Youth Suicide Prevention Program.

Ortiz-Self, 53, of Mukilteo, is a counselor at North Middle School in Everett and a member of the Washington state Commission on Hispanic Affairs. She also serves on the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee created by the Legislature.

Like Liias, Ortiz said her top priority is education, especially since the state Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature must fund basic education by 2018. Her other priorities are jobs, the economy and public safety.

“This is our opportunity to make sure ... all kids succeed in schools,” she said. “We actually get to put $1 billion for the next four years into education, and I just want to make sure those dollars are used wisely.”

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