Washington state Sen. Ann Rivers changes course, plans to continue in politics
Two months after announcing she planned to soon leave the Washington Senate, Ann Rivers now says she’s going to stick around.
The La Center Republican wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that she’s reversed course because she realizes she will have more time to juggle her new job at the city of Longview with her political duties.
“I recognize it’s rare for someone to ‘unannounce’ a retirement before retiring, but I also didn’t know when I went to work for the city that continuing to finish my legislative term was even a possibility,” Rivers wrote to OPB in a text message.
Rivers announced in October she planned to resign after the next legislative session. She said she hoped to wait for a state-level commission to finish the once-in-a-decade redistricting process, which has since completed.
Rivers has represented the Senate’s 18th District since 2010. She last won re-election 2020, giving her three more years on her term. She declined to speak further about her decision, citing a busy schedule.
On her Facebook post, Rivers said she plans to continue as senator “for the foreseeable future.”
Her reversal plugs an impending vacuum in Southwest Washington politics. Her resignation would have triggered an appointment process to find a replacement. Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver, had publicly expressed interest in the seat. Vick did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Clark County Republican Party, which would have had to name three potential appointees to replace Rivers, welcomed her reversal.
“I think it’s going to be great that she’s decided to stay on indefinitely and continue to serve the people in her district,” said Clark County Republican Party Chairman Joel Mattila.
In October, Rivers cited her new job as well as a growing ugliness in politics as her reasons for retirement. In an interview with OPB at the time, she lamented Democrat control of Olympia and spoke of her frustrations with intraparty squabbles among Republicans.
For example, the Clark County GOP had as recently as 2020 supported other Republicans to unseat Rivers. Some local Republicans said she embraced new taxes, among other criticisms.
The majority of the local party today doesn’t hold that view, Mattila said.
“That was the last administration,” Mattila said. “Those kinds of things expire when a new central committee is elected. And a new central committee was elected in November (2020). So that’s a big reset button that gets hit.”
In her Facebook post announcing she’ll stay, Rivers makes no mention of partisanship or intraparty disputes. It only discusses sharing time between her new, private career and her elected office. This fall, Rivers took the reins of Longview’s Community Development Department, overseeing the city’s building and planning divisions.
“In discussing this with my employer, they have given me both the space, and the grace, to continue on in the legislature without having to make the choice of giving up work I’m passionate about in the legislature — serving constituents and doing public policy work that impacts SW Washington,” Rivers wrote.
Fellow Republicans said they were happy Rivers will continue in the state Legislature.
“I think that’s good for the caucus, good for the state and good for the district,” said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, who is the Senate Republican leader. “I’m pleased her new employer and her were able to work out at a deal to commit the time she needed to stay in office.”
Fellow district-mate Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver, said the district will benefit with Rivers staying. He also noted that redistricting has shifted the district from largely rural — while covering small cities like Ridgefield and Camas — to covering the urban outskirts of Vancouver.
Hoff said he expects his new constituency will prioritize some different issues, but he doesn’t expect that will affect the futures of himself, Vick or Rivers too much.
“I’m still confident that the work we can do can still survive in any district,” Hoff said.
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