MOUNT VERNON — Local Republican Party organizations have selected three finalists for the vacant state Senate seat in the 10th Legislative District.
Ron Muzzall, a Whidbey Island farmer and former fire commissioner, was the top finalist at a meeting Thursday of the three Republican organizations in the district.
Christine Cribb, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, ranked second, and Sarah Hyatt, co-owner of Hyatt Construction, ranked third.
Muzzall, who has lived in Oak Harbor nearly his entire life, said he feels blessed to receive the nomination, especially considering his lack of involvement with the precinct committee officers in the three Republican organizations.
“You could say I was the dark horse in this race,” Muzzall said.
Sen. Barbara Bailey resigned from this seat Sept. 30, after nearly seven years in the Senate.
These three finalists were selected by 33 Republican precinct committee officers in the district.
The 10th Legislative District includes Island County, southwest Skagit County and northwest Snohomish County.
On Oct. 18, governing boards from the three counties will appoint one of the finalists to fill the Senate seat.
This seat will be up for election in 2020, giving the appointee about a year before having to run for office.
Muzzall has had a nearly 35-year stint running 3 Sisters Family Farm.
“I refer to myself as conservative, compassionate and reasonable,” he said.
Muzzall said he believes lawmakers in Olympia have overtaxed residents, and that government should disrupt people and businesses as little as possible.
He said he would support expanding programs that help the homeless and those addicted to drugs, as long as the programs emphasize personal accountability.
“(Let’s) empower these people to improve their lives,” he said.
Muzzall said he’s confident he can fund the expansion of programs without raising taxes, by cutting wasted spending.
Cribb has led the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce since 2014, and in that time she said she’s managed to double membership by being attentive to the needs of business owners.
Her experience with the chamber, she said, would serve her well in the Legislature.
In the past five years, she said she’s learned how to be a voice for the business community, so she’s confident she can quickly learn how to be a voice for constituents.
Cribb said she has become increasingly frustrated with the overregulation of small businesses, something she said places an undue burden on business owners.
She has been endorsed by Bailey, and ran Bailey’s first campaign for the Senate.
Cribb said this firsthand experience in campaigning would give her an edge when she would need to run in 2020.
She said if appointed she plans to hit the ground running in the Senate, getting to work on issues such as business regulation, water rights, and career and technical education.
“I have absolutely no doubt that I could make a change in our district in one year,” she said.
Hyatt, who with her husband has owned Hyatt Construction in Stanwood for 20 years, said excessive regulations from state agencies propelled her to seek the position.
From a construction perspective, she said expensive mandates from agencies such as the Department of Ecology and Labor & Industries are making housing prohibitively expensive for developers to build.
“We’re in the thick of the housing affordability crisis,” she said of her company.
If appointed, she said she would draw on her business experience to push for fewer regulations.
“The reality of what we deal with is what’s lacking in Olympia,” she said.