FILE - Dough Ericksen

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, talks to reporters, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. 

(The Center Square) – Simon Sefzik was appointed on Tuesday morning as a senator for the 42nd Legislative District in the Washington State Senate to replace Republican Doug Ericksen, who died Dec. 17 after a five-week battle with COVID-19.  

The Whatcom County Council selected Sefzik – a Ferndale resident who recently graduated from Patrick Henry College in Virginia and interned in Congress and the White House – from among three candidates offered up by the Whatcom County Republican Party.

New Councilmember Kaylee Galloway – taking over for Rud Browne, whose term ended earlier this month – voted for Sefzik, along with fellow councilmembers Barry Buchanan, Todd Donovan, and Carol Frazey. Councilmembers Tyler Byrd and Kathy Kershner voted for Whatcom County Councilmember Ben Elenbaas, one of three candidates for the state Senate vacancy, recused himself from the discussion on the candidates and ensuing vote. 

In discussing the candidates, Donovan, Frazey, and Galloway cited concerns about Elenbaas’ ability to serve on the Whatcom County Council and Washington State Senate simultaneously.

Byrd touted Elenbaas’s experience as a farmer and past president of the Whatcom County Farm Bureau, saying it would benefit the 42ndDistrict.

Sefzik’s appointment to the state legislature follows last week’s hold up. On Jan. 4, the Whatcom County Council voted 4-2 at a special meeting to delay for a week naming a replacement for the Ferndale-based Ericksen. Elenbaas recused himself from a discussion on the matter during the meeting.

Browne, Buchanan, Donovan, and Frazey voted in favor of the delay. Byrd and Kershner voted no.

Browne, who said he compiled a list of questions that he’d received from 42nd District residents and wanted answers to those questions from the candidates named to replace Ericksen.

According to the questionnaire filled out by Sefzik, his top priorities as a state senator will be flooding relief, homelessness, affordable housing, agriculture, police reforms, and education.

The other candidate considered as Ericksen’s replacement was Tawsha Dykstra Thompson, a former sergeant with the Bellingham Police Department who left the force in December.

The 42nd District seat will be on the ballot for the general election in November 2022.

The Washington State Legislature convened its 60-day 2022 session Monday.

Staff Reporter

Brett Davis reports on Washington state government for The Center Square. He previously worked for public policy organizations the Freedom Foundation and Washington Farm Bureau, as well as various community newspapers.