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Joe McDermott moves to Washington State Senate
Joe McDermott moves to Washington State Senate
Joins State Senator Ed Murray, appointed to replace Sen. Erik Paulson

by Liz Meyer - SGN Staff Writer

The Metropolitan King County Council appointed former State Rep. Joe McDermott to replace State Sen. Erik Poulsen as State Senator for the 34th Legislative District. With the appointment, Sen. McDermott, who served as the state representative for the 34th for the past seven years, becomes the third openly Gay state senator in Washington.

By an 8-0 vote, with Councilmember Reagan Dunn excused, councilmembers approved the motion brought forth by Councilmember Dow Constantine to have Rep. McDermott fill Sen. Poulsen's seat. The motion was approved during the King County Council's Committee of the Whole on October 15.

Sen. McDermott was one of three people nominated by the King County Central Democratic Committee. In interviews with councilmembers earlier in the day, the two other people put forth by Democrats, Precinct Committee Officers Lois Elenich and John Kennedy, voiced their support for Sen. McDermott.

Before the motion was put to a vote, several councilmembers gave their endorsements of ?the appointment.

"This is a fine nominee before us," said Democratic Councilmember Constantine, before joking that Sen. McDermott's 34th District was clearly the "finest" of all legislative districts. Constantine serves the 8th District within which Sen. McDermott's 34th District falls.

Republican Councilmember Kathy Lambert, a longtime foe of pro-Gay LGBT legislation, added that Sen. McDermott's experience in the House would be an asset in working with the Senate. "In the Legislature, there is a comment that's called, 'The best Senators are the ones that are House-trained'."

Democratic Councilmember Julia Patterson agreed. "Your appointment is good for the entire region and the entire state of Washington," she said. "You have been watched very carefully, and your commitment to education is extraordinary. You also have an innate ability, something that many people can't learn, to forge those relationships necessary in order to be successful within a legislative body."

Democratic Councilmember Larry Phillips warned Sen. McDermott that he would miss "the extraordinary leadership in the House, and also the occasional food fight in the cafeteria" but wished Sen. McDermott luck in the transition process. Several councilmembers mentioned Sen. McDermott's connections to the area. A third generation resident of West Seattle, Sen. McDermott attended Seattle's Bishop Blanchett High School, and "knows everybody, and their parents, and their kids," said Constantine.

After being sworn in by King County Superior Court Judge Richard Eadie, Sen. McDermott spoke.

"I would particularly like to thank my partner, Michael, and my parents, Jim and Terri McDermott for their support, not only in the last couple weeks as I've sought this appointment, and in the last seven years that I've served in the Legislature, but for the support throughout my life that makes my work possible," said McDermott. I thank all of you. I've truly had the honor and privilege of representing the 34th District, and very much look forward to continuing that work in the Senate, using those relationships that Councilmember Patterson spoke about, building those bridges, working together with people across the state and across aisles."


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