Political musical chairs challenge for 8th District

November 18, 2012 

Politics can sometimes seem like a game of musical chairs.

And with the election of state Sen. Jerome Delvin to the Benton County commission, we're likely to see that in evidence in the months ahead.

Delvin will give up his Senate seat to take on his new role closer to home as a county commissioner.

It will be up to the Benton County Republicans to collect applications from potential candidates, then the party precinct officers in the 8th District will narrow that group to three. The county commissioners then appoint one to the seat to serve until the next general election.

Delvin said he plans to continue his work as state legislator for the first few weeks of the 2013 session, which begins Jan. 14. That means Delvin will still have a voice at legislative committee meetings next month and the opportunity to introduce a few bills before he resigns. And that's admirable.

The downside is that the district could still be without representation in the Senate for up to 60 days of the 105-day session while local officials debate his replacement.

The process of finding that new senator won't begin until Delvin is sworn in as county commissioner on Jan. 2. An interesting twist is that Delvin will be one of the county commissioners voting on his own replacement in the Senate.

And even though it will be January before that process begins, Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, has thrown his hat in the ring. That follows the historical pattern of the senior House member from a region stepping up to take a vacated Senate seat. Since the replacement has to be a Republican, it will be interesting to see who else seeks the appointment.

Haler is the logical choice, and challengers would be hard pressed to beat him out of the spot in the Senate.

If Haler, earns the nod, that would leave his seat in the House of Representatives open. Are you starting to see how this feels like musical chairs?

The same process would follow to fill Haler's vacated seat.

For that position, we like Rick Jansons.

Jansons lost to Delvin in the county commissioner's race, but he was a strong candidate.

Jansons is president of the Richland School Board and has served as vice chairman of the Hanford Advisory Board and vice president of the Richland Public Facilities District board, among other avenues of service.

Jansons has kids in first grade through graduate school, and we know he wants to stay close to home. But this opportunity is a good one for him to represent our area on a state level. We hope he at least considers putting his name in the running.

The changes ahead will be intriguing for our region. We're excited to see someone with Delvin's state-level experience coming home to serve a county that is in need of a critical eye on its budget.

His connections in Olympia should help the county in the years ahead.

Haler has earned our respect for his work for the region and the Senate would be a good fit for him if he receives the appointment as expected. The real question mark will be filling Haler's vacated seat.

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