Anacortes City Council member Liz Lovelett was chosen Tuesday to replace Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island. Ranker stepped down last month amid an investigation that ultimately found he harassed a legislative staffer who worked for him.
OLYMPIA — Anacortes City Council member Liz Lovelett was chosen Tuesday to replace Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, who stepped down last month amid an investigation into whether he harassed a legislative staffer.
Lovelett’s selection was approved Tuesday afternoon in a joint meeting of the Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan county commissions, all of which contain portions of the 40th legislative district that Lovelett will represent. She was sworn in immediately after her selection.
Currently in her sixth year on the Anacortes City Council, Lovelett was the main author of a strategic plan for affordable housing for that city, according to a news release by state Senate Democrats.
“Liz Lovelett will be a great addition to our team,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, in the news release. “She brings a lot of local government experience and a passion for public service. I am very excited to welcome her to the Senate.”
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A report released last week of a Senate-commissioned investigation found that Ranker had harassed a female staffer employed by him several years ago. She later took a job with a state agency.
After she moved to that new position, Ranker’s behavior created “a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment” toward the woman and “efforts to advance the interests of the agency she worked for,” the report also found.
Ranker resigned last month, shortly before the start of the legislative session.
Given his resignation, Secretary of the Senate Brad Hendrickson recommended taking no disciplinary action against him.
Lovelett’s selection comes as a surge of female candidates winning election has increased the ranks of women in the Washington Legislature. Approximately 40 percent of Washington’s current state lawmakers are women.