Ron Muzzall

Ron Muzzall (left) with Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson after being appointed to represent the 10th Legislative District in the state Senate.

MOUNT VERNON — Ron Muzzall, manager of 3 Sisters Farm on Whidbey Island, was unanimously appointed Friday to fill the vacant state Senate seat in the 10th Legislative District.

A relatively unknown figure in Republican politics, Muzzall beat out Christine Cribb, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, and Sarah Hyatt, co-owner of Hyatt Construction.

“I am having a humbling day,” he said, adding he was flattered so many people supported him.

Muzzall replaces Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, who retired Sept. 30 after representing the 10th district for 16 years.

The 10th district includes Island County, southwest Skagit County and northwest Snohomish County.

The governing boards from the three counties were responsible for selecting Bailey’s replacement from the three candidates, who were chosen by local Republican precinct committee officers.

Muzzall has experience on several citizen advisory boards, served as a fire commissioner and represented the region on the corporate board of the dairy cooperative Land O’Lakes.

Skagit County Commissioner Ron Wesen said Muzzall’s background in farming will help him when crafting policy on this important sector of the county’s economy.

Wesen, who has known Muzzall for about 25 years, praised his ability to think critically about problems and work to fix them.

“We need more people thinking about problems, finding solutions and executing them,” Wesen said.

Muzzall said he plans to spend the beginning of his term learning from his colleagues in the Senate and building relationships.

“I don’t think anyone appreciates someone who comes in with a visible agenda, he said. “One of the most important things is to not alienate people.”

Skagit County Commissioner Ken Dahlstedt said Muzzall’s agriculture background contributed to his vote, but so did Muzzall’s desire to avoid conflict and seek collaboration.

“He’s got the most chance to work across the aisle,” Dahlstedt said.

Because he was appointed to Bailey’s unexpired term, Muzzall will serve until the end of 2020, and will need to win an election next year to retain the seat.

Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, a Democrat, plans to run for the seat next year, and recused herself from Friday’s vote.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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