SeaTac's Mia Gregerson Appointed to Replace Upthegrove by King County Council
By Matt Wendland
Deputy Mayor Mia Gregerson of SeaTac has been appointed by the Metropolitan King County Council to fill the vacated 33rd Legislative District House seat following the election Dave Upthegrove to the King County Council in the 2013 general election.
The appointment came on December 16 when the King County Council broke from what has commonly been the tradition, and passed over first choice Elizabeth Albertson of the Kent City Council, for 33rd Legislative District PCO (Precinct Committee Officers) recommendation number two, Mia Gregerson.
While it has been common practice for the County Council to appoint whomever the district PCOs recommend, the Washington State Constitution states that the Council has the right to appoint any of the top three recommendations and is not held to accepting the recommendations in the order presented by the district’s PCOs.
The appointment norm was demonstrated twice at the same meeting when the Council appointed the top PCO recommendations from Seattle’s 43rd District.
Elizabeth Albertson, who’s term as a Kent City Council Member expires with the close of the year, did not seek reelection to her seat in order to run for the state House seat. The seat was vacated in November by Des Moines' Representative, Dave Upthegrove, who was elected to serve on the King County Council after Council Member Julia Paterson decided not to seek reelection. The 33rd District includes SeaTac, Des Moines, Normandy Park, and portions of Burien and Kent. The Council is required by Washington State law to appoint someone from the same political party to vacated seats, in this case, a Democrat.
Following the County Council’s decision to appoint Mia Gregerson over first recommendation Elizabeth Albertson, Omaha Sternberg, chair of the 33rd District Democrats, released a statement saying "What the King County Council has done is not about choosing one candidate over another. All nominees were strong candidates from the 33rd that could receive the House appointment and continue representing the strong progressive values of the 33rd District Democrats.
What the King County Council has done is about subverting the will of the PCOs which also very clearly subverts the intent of the Constitution itself. Should a County Council rubber stamp the nomination of the PCOs without even looking at them? Of course not. But when the King County Council makes a decision while ignoring the recommendations of the PCOs, taking the advice of people from outside the district with other agendas, they simply used a different rubber stamp!
I urge the County Council to recognize that such back-room dealings do not help the district in which the vacancy occurred. They do not help or encourage the PCOs, for whichever party the PCOs represent, to feel that they are being taken seriously. They do not help the voters of that district believe and trust in the interim legislator that has been chosen… The 33rd District Democrats support Mia Gregerson as our interim House Representative. We simply do not support the way in which the King County Council proceeded with the 33rd House appointment. This process ignored the advice of the PCOs, discounted the will of the people, and ignored the process of Democracy.”
Following Gregerson’s appointment to the position, Albertson reacted to the Kent Reporter with claims of racial discrimination on the part of the County Council saying “I had been warned last spring, the King County Council was being pressured to appoint a person of color after they chose Rod Dembowski over Cindy Ryu to join their ranks, however, two wrongs, never make a right.” But the appointment of the Gregerson over Albertson was defended by County Council Member Kathy Lambert who is reported to have stated that Gregerson’s answers were better than Albertson’s.
Mia Gregerson is currently serving as the Deputy Mayor of SeaTac and had been elected to serve a term through 2015. She has lived in the Highline region for over thirty years and graduated from Foster High School and the Puget Sound Skills Center, formally known as OSC, in Burien. Gregerson graduated from the University of Washington and has served on the SeaTac City Council since 2008. Following her appointment, Gregerson released a statement saying "I want to thank the 33rd District Democrats and the King County Council for their work on the appointment process to replace Rep. Dave Upthegrove. I am honored to serve as State Representative for the 33rd Legislative District.
I also appreciate going through the process with Elizabeth Albertson and Omaha Sternberg. Elizabeth brought her experience as a Kent City councilmember and a breadth of knowledge on a diverse set of issues to the process. I would love to work with her more closely and learn more from her as I go through my first session in the state legislature. Omaha Sternberg and I talked today on the phone about continuing to work and support the progressive values of the 33rd District Democrats.
We have many challenges facing South King County including investing in SR 509 and SR 167; implementing the Affordable Care Act; and ensuring economic fairness. I am excited to hit the ground running as the appointed State Representative from the 33rd Legislative District.”
Gregerson will serve as the State Representative for the 33rd Legislative District representing SeaTac, Normandy Park, Des Moines, Burien and Kent, through 2015.