State Sen. Cheryl Pflug departs suddenly to accept board post
May 29, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Snoqualmie businessman Brad Toft, Councilman Mark Mullet seek seat
The last-minute withdrawal left Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet, a Democrat, and Snoqualmie businessman Brad Toft, a Republican, in the running to represent Issaquah and the reshaped 5th Legislative District in Olympia.
Gregoire appointed Pflug to a six-year term on the Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, the panel responsible for mediating disputes about planning and development issues in municipalities throughout the state. Members earn $92,500 per year.
Members cannot serve simultaneously on the board and in the Legislature. Pflug intends to resign from the Senate on July 1, the same day the state board appointment starts and about six months before the Senate term expires.
Under state law, the King County Council is responsible for appointing a successor to the Senate seat after Pflug resigns. The law calls for GOP officials to submit three candidates to the council for the open seat. Then, the council must make a selection within 60 days of Pflug’s resignation.
Pflug, a 13-year legislator, ascended to the Senate through the same process, after then-Sen. Dino Rossi resigned to run for governor. Before the Senate appointment in 2004, she represented the district in the state House of Representatives since 1999.
“Cheryl is well respected by both sides of the aisle as an effective problem solver and has served her constituents well,” Gregoire said in a statement. “Her legislative experience and commitment to serve will be a great asset to the work of the board and I welcome her to this new role.”
Pflug said the knowledge she gained as a legislator representing the 5th District — and communities straddling the boundary between urban and rural — should prove useful on the Growth Management Hearings Board.
“This is an exciting opportunity for me to carry on a family legacy of public service in our beloved Pacific Northwest while also growing my experience in the legal profession,” she said in a statement. “I feel very fortunate.”
In the Legislature, Pflug, a Maple Valley resident and a registered nurse, focused on health care policy. In Olympia, she obtained funding to expand state Route 18, crafted legislation to create treatment alternatives for nonviolent criminals and cast the decisive vote to create a simple-majority requirement for school levies.
In the most recent regular legislative session, Pflug championed a Medicaid reform bill, secured $4 million for a project at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and joined a handful of Republican lawmakers to support legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington.
Pflug also embarked on economic development missions to Brazil, China, Japan and Vietnam.
“It is an honor and privilege to receive this appointment by Gov. Gregoire,” she said. “I am excited for the opportunity to continue serving the citizens of our great state in another capacity and look forward to the challenges ahead.”
Pflug also earned a spot in recent years among the legislators on the list for the most missed votes.
In recent years, she attributed some missed votes to schedule conflicts between the Legislature and law school. Pflug graduated from the Seattle University School of Law on May 12.
Pflug filed for re-election to the Senate before the May 18 deadline and listed “Independent GOP Party” under party preference, although she did not report any campaign fundraising to the state Public Disclosure Commission in the most recent filing period.
Pflug could not be reached for additional comment May 25.
(Mullet raised $60,096 and Toft raised $12,804 in the most recent filing period.)
“There seems to be more interest in the race now from everybody,” Mullet said May 25. “Before, I was always really optimistic and the people that were close to the campaign were optimistic. Now, I feel like there’s a larger group of people who are optimistic.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.