State Rep. Matt Manweller, who has pledged to step down amid sexual misconduct allegations, must finalize his departure plans quickly so his replacement can be chosen before the Legislature reconvenes.
Plagued by sexual misconduct allegations, state Rep. Matt Manweller promised that if he won re-election Nov. 6, he would later resign.
Yet weeks after the Ellensburg Republican coasted to a 22-point victory, he has yet to announce when he will step down.
The lack of a clear timeline for Manweller’s departure is making it impossible for local government officials to move ahead with selecting his replacement. It has left his three potential successors in limbo, uncertain whether they will need to uproot their lives and move to Olympia next month.
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Manweller must finalize his resignation plans quickly so a new state representative can be chosen and be ready to work by the time the Legislature reconvenes Jan. 14.
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If Manweller delays too long, his replacement might miss the start of the legislative session, creating an unnecessarily rocky start to a job that already has a steep learning curve.
Such a result would not be in the best interest of Manweller’s constituents in the 13th Legislative District.
Manweller’s September announcement that he would resign came under intense pressure from GOP leaders. The three-term incumbent has faced mounting questions about his past interactions with young women and teenage girls, including a recent report that he had sex with a former student before she turned 18. In August, Central Washington University fired Manweller from his job as a professor after an investigation found he engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior with female students.
Manweller has denied the allegations and has sued the university for wrongful termination.
Even if Manweller intends to wait until next month to step down, he should send a letter as soon as possible informing legislative leaders of his planned resignation date. That way, county commissioners in Grant, Lincoln, Kittitas and Yakima counties can work in advance to schedule the joint meeting necessary to choose their district’s new House member.
Republican party officials have narrowed the list down to three names, but the final choice must be made by the county commissioners. Coordinating a last-minute meeting of four separate county commissions is likely to take time, especially given the holidays leading up to the legislative session.
Even if the counties can organize quickly, the person who replaces Manweller is “going to have serious changes in their life,” said Grant County Commissioner Cindy Carter. Finding a place to live in Olympia on short notice and getting leave from work, for instance.
Manweller can resolve all of this uncertainty by picking a resignation date and making it public.
He should do so now, without further delay.