Whatcom County Council names 22-year-old Simon Sefzik as late Sen. Ericksen’s replacement

Jan 11, 2022, 7:34 AM | Updated: Jan 12, 2022, 6:25 am
Washington Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, talks to reporters on Feb. 2, 2017 at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Whatcom County Council named 22-year-old community activist Simon Sefzik as the replacement for late state Senator Doug Ericksen in a 4-2 vote on Tuesday.

Ericksen died in mid-December, weeks after testing positive for COVID upon arriving in El Salvador.

Sefzik — considered by many to be the underdog among the group of three finalists — recently graduated from a Christian college in Virginia with a degree in politics and policy, and previously interned at the White House in 2020 and 2021.

“I’m probably the youngest person on this Zoom meeting. I’m not a politician, I don’t know how to raise money for a campaign, I don’t know how to talk the political talk,” he said in a statement delivered to the county council shortly before its vote. “You can call me naïve but, if anything, I believe that the story of America is in many ways a story of underdogs.”

Questions from the councilmembers made it clear they wanted someone who will not fight pandemic health measures, such as mask orders and vaccine mandates.

Whatcom County Councilmember Ben Elenbaas was among those nominated to fill Ericksen’s seat as well. Those who voted for Sefzik, though, cited concerns over Elenbaas intimating that he would not resign from the county council if he was elected to the state Legislature. While he would have been legally permitted to serve in both roles, there was apprehension over Elenbaas potentially dividing his attention between the two jobs.

Long-time Bellingham police officer Tawsha Dykstra Thompson was also nominated by the Whatcom County Republican Party as a potential replacement.

Sefzik was sworn in immediately after the vote so he can start work. The legislature began its session Monday. He will serve out the remainder of Ericksen’s term, which ends early next year.

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Whatcom County Council names 22-year-old Simon Sefzik as late Sen. Ericksen’s replacement