On Friday, Orting City Councilman Graham Hunt was chosen to fill the 2nd Legislative District seat vacated by former state Rep. Gary Alexander.
“I was surprised,” Hunt said after the announcement. “There’s no way to know how this process is going to go.”
Hunt was one of three Republican nominees for the seat, which was decided during a joint meeting of the Thurston County Commissioners and the Pierce County Council at DuPont City Hall.
Matt Hamilton of Graham and Andrew Barkis of Olympia also were interviewed for the position.
“We had a tough decision with three exceptional candidates,” said Thurston County Commission Chairwoman Karen Valenzuela.
Hunt, 34, said he plans to leave his City Council seat, otherwise “I wouldn’t be serving either side.”
The appointment will last about a year. Hunt will need to run in November’s election to keep it.
Hamilton, who was the state Republican Party’s top choice, said he’s already filed to run for the position.
Meanwhile, Barkis said he’ll support Hunt’s bid to keep it.
During a question-and-answer session with the council and commission, Hunt said he believed that his military experience gave him an edge over the other candidates.
“I’m a 10-year veteran, in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “… You’re taught that leadership is not just taking the lead, but it’s also (knowing) when to follow.”
Hunt, who owns an insurance company, said he understands the issues that small businesses and rural communities face.
“We need to create jobs,” he said. “And in order to create jobs we need to promote the small-business owner to create those jobs. And sometimes that means getting out of the way.”
During a public comment time, Orting resident Dave Harmon told the commission and council that Hunt was the right person for the job.
“He is the backbone of America,” Harmon said. “He is a small-business owner. He’s a vet.”
But Republican John Seidl, 67, of Graham, said Hamilton was the best choice.
He was upset about the way the process turned out.
“The five Democrats picked the weakest candidate,” Seidl said. “If I was a Democrat, that’s what I would have done. … He knows nothing about the 2nd District.”