OLYMPIA — Services for Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen will be held Wednesday in Bellingham.
A Republican from Ferndale who long represented Whatcom County’s 42nd legislative district, Ericksen died Friday after contracting COVID-19 on a trip to El Salvador. He was 52.
Services for Ericksen will be held at noon at Christ the King Bellingham, on 4173 Meridian St.
Meanwhile, efforts are under way to fill the vacancy created by his death.
To fill Ericksen’s seat, the local Republican party will provide the names of three potential candidates to the Whatcom County Council.
“We pick, and if there’s a deadlock, I believe it goes to the governor,” said Whatcom County Councilmember Todd Donovan.
Of Ericksen’s death, “We’re all still kind of in shock,” added Donovan.
The Washington Legislature returns on Jan. 10 for its regularly scheduled session, and it remains unclear whether a new senator will be appointed by then.
Council members may not get a list of recommended candidates until after Ericksen’s services, Donovan said. The council has scheduled a special meeting for Jan. 4, Donovan said, and its next scheduled meeting is Jan. 11.
An appointment could come as early as one of those two meetings, Donovan said.
An email to the Whatcom County Republican Party seeking comment Wednesday wasn’t returned.
One of the longest-serving members of the current Legislature, Ericksen had earned a reputation as a tough critic of Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic policies.
At the beginning of this year, he founded the Senate Freedom Caucus, which worked to advance conservative ideas in Olympia amid Democratic House and Senate majorities.
Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, a fellow Freedom Caucus member, mourned Ericksen’s passing in a statement.
“Doug brought a practical problem-solving approach to every issue he addressed, as chairman of the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, and later, as ranking minority member — from speeding up state-funded cleanups of contaminated industrial sites to ensuring we have workable regulations to protect oil-train safety,” Wilson wrote. “I think the people of Whatcom County have Doug to thank for the progress we see being made in the revitalization of the Bellingham Bay waterfront.”