WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash — The Whatcom County Council voted Tuesday to fill the 42nd Legislative District seat left vacant by late Sen. Doug Ericksen.

Simon Sefzik was appointed by the council to represent the county until the next general election.

At 22 years old, Sefzik is believed to be the youngest state senator in the history of Washington. 

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In a letter to the Whatcom County Council, Sefzik said his priorities include flooding relief, housing affordability, agriculture and public safety.

"For all the differences we have here in Whatcom County, we need to all work together to take care of those who need it," said Sefzik.

The Whatcom County Republican Party urged the council to appoint a new state senator, citing a need for representation after the county was hit hard by flooding.

Millions in damage was done. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes and stay in shelters during the worst of it.

However, the area was left without representation in the state Senate during Ericksen's absences and subsequent death, the Republican Party pointed out.

President Joe Biden approved federal disaster funding for the hardest-hit areas. It's a move that the Republican Party said is recognition at the "highest level of US government that the people of Whatcom County need help and relief."

Ericksen died mid-December. Prior to that, he was absent for weeks after reportedly being hospitalized and treated for COVID-19 in Florida.

In wake of his predecessor's death after contracting COVID, county council members asked Sefzik what he would do to encourage people in his district to get vaccinated and wear masks. 

Sefzik made it clear he opposes Gov. Jay Inslee's statewide mandates, just as Ericksen did. 

"Whether it be at the county or city level to make those sorts of health determinations based on the metrics of their county and their city," he said. "Not necessarily a statewide, one-size-fits-all mandate coming from the governor's office in Olympia."

A staunch Republican and supporter of former President Donald Trump, Ericksen served the people of Whatcom County for more than two decades.

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According to Sefzik’s resume provided to the county council, he most recently worked as an operations and logistics coordinator for Nomi Health in Denver, CO. Sefzik’s resume also shows he previously worked in different capacities for the White House from 2020 to 2021 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019.

Sefzik graduated from a conservative Christian college in Virginia with a degree in politics and policy.

He'll hold the office until November's general election.

In a moment fitting of these strange times, the state's newest, youngest senator took the oath of office via Zoom. 

The legislative session in Olympia began Monday, Jan. 10.