WestCoast Hospitality Corp. Chairman Don Barbieri says hed like to fill the legislative seat being vacated by 3rd District state Rep. Jeff Gombosky, but only if hes appointed to the posthe doesnt plan for now to run for election.
Whether thats on an interim basis while other candidates can sort out who wants to run is something I will probably explore with the leadership to see if that makes any sense, says Barbieri, who retired in March from the job of president and CEO of WestCoast Hospitality.
Gombosky announced earlier this month that he plans to quit his position in the Washington state House in August to take a lobbying job with Eastern Washington University. If he vacates his seat after Aug. 4, as he has announced he will, the Spokane County Commission will appoint someone to fill it until the general election in November 2004, says Tom Keefe, chairman of the Spokane County Democratic party. If Gombosky quits earlier than Aug. 4, there would be an election this fall to fill the seat.
Keefe says potential successors to Gombosky will need to submit a letter of intent to the Democratic Partys central committee here, which then will choose three candidates to forward to the county commissioners for consideration. No letters of intent have been submitted yet, Keefe says.
Barbieri says hes discussed the job with Keefe, but has not drafted a letter of intent.
He describes his political orientation as being socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Ive never been labeled a partisan, he says. If you have to choose, you have to choose, and I never have so far.
He notes, however, that he worked on political campaigns many years ago for Democrats Robert F. Kennedy and Tom Foley.
The 3rd District stretches from the near North Side to the lower South Hill and includes downtown Spokane, Gonzaga University, and Spokane Community College. Its a phenomenally important district to not only this city, but to the region, says Barbieri, who lives along the south side of the Spokane River, near the Riverpoint Higher Education Park.
If he were appointed to fill the 3rd District seat temporarily, Barbieri says he doesnt know if hed run to keep the job in 2004.
I havent given any real thought to that, he says. I think Id rather frankly be of service to help fill a void while candidates can line up.
Barbieri says hes sensitive to the fact that the 3rd District has a strong Democratic root to it, and that party officials may favor candidates whove been active in district politics. Thats just fine, Barbieri says. Im very respectful of the process.
Barbieri adds that his desire to serve out Gomboskys term isnt motivated by political aspirations as much as by an eagerness to do new things after stepping down from operational leadership of WestCoast Hospitality.
There isnt any question Im going to use the next several years to look at ways to be involved, whether locally, regionally, or statewide, he says.
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