Sharon Brown to be sworn into state Senate Monday

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 3, 2013 

Sharon Brown will be sworn in Monday as the newest state senator from the 8th Legislative District -- leaving a vacancy on the Kennewick City Council that officials hope they'll be able to quickly fill.

"It will be extremely hard to replace her because she's been a wonderful teammate on the council," Mayor Steve Young told the Herald. "She was just one of the best."

Benton County Commissioners a week ago picked Brown to replace Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, in the Senate. Delvin recently was elected and sworn in as a county commissioner.

Brown has served on the Kennewick council as mayor pro tem -- essentially an alternate to Young when he's unavailable for mayoral duties -- since January 2010.

Young also is Brown's boss in her professional life outside the council. Young is a vice president for Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance. Brown reports to him in her job for subcontractor Longnecker & Associates, making sure contracts are correct and processed properly, he said.

"It's a very difficult job," Young said. "She excels at it."

Brown will keep her job with the subcontractor when not working in the Legislature. The Senate position pays $42,106 per year.

The Kennewick council will formally accept Brown's resignation when it meets Tuesday and then begin the process of appointing a replacement, Young said. The city will advertise for applicants, who must live within the Ward 2 neighborhood Brown represents. Ward 2 straddles Highway 395 in central Kennewick from about Highway 240 and Clearwater Avenue to the city's southern border.

Once applications are collected, the council will interview candidates and then vote on the appointment to Brown's council seat.

Whomever is selected won't come in as mayor pro tem. That title will go to one of the existing council members, Young said.

The person appointed to replace Brown will have to run for the seat in November. Brown's term would have expired at the end of this year.

"It's a huge loss to the city," Young said. "She was a good council person, but will be very good for the 8th District."

Brown already has jumped into the whirlwind of the legislative session, which started Jan. 14. She traveled to Olympia a couple of days after her Senate appointment to get an orientation from Delvin on his committee assignments -- which she'll take over -- and the important issues of the day.

"Sen. Delvin has been instrumental in getting me caught up on the issues," Brown told the Herald on Friday, which also was Delvin's last day as a lawmaker.

She'll serve on the Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee; the Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee; the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee; and the Transportation Committee.

She's eager to tackle issues related to all four, including efforts to revise Initiative 937's renewable energy requirements and create a system assigning letter grades from "A" to "F" for school performance so parents can know whether schools are failing, she said.

"What we have found in other communities is when this happens the community tends to rally around a particular school and that brings the school up because of the community involvement," she said.

Brown is looking forward to working with Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, on the Transportation Committee to meet Tri-City transportation needs, she said, although she couldn't identify any particular projects she'll promote.

"Once I sit in my first committee meeting I will be able to tell you that," she said.

She's also interested in promoting economic development in rural areas, and in telling the rest of the state what makes the Tri-Cities successful.

"I think we do so much right in the Tri-Cities," she said.

She'll also pick up where Delvin left off in working on any bills he introduced that haven't made it through committee yet.

Brown has lived in Kennewick for 15 years and worked as a lawyer for more than 20.

She graduated from Franklin Pierce Law Center, now the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

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