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Billig announcement starts jockeying for Spokane legislative seats

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(The Center Square) – Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig’s announcement Monday that he would not seek re-election this fall has started a ripple effect for state legislative seats representing the Spokane area.

A few hours later, fellow Democrat and 3rd Legislative District state Rep. Marcus Riccelli said he intends to run for Billig’s Senate seat.

That was followed by two other Spokane Democrats – attorney Natasha Hill and former city council president Ben Stuckart – saying they will vie for Riccelli’s House seat.

A weeklong filing period is scheduled May 6-10 for 2024 elective positions in Washington.

Billig, 55, was first elected to the state legislature in 2010 and has served as Senate Majority Leader since late 2018, helping to expand the Democratic majority’s numbers in Olympia. This year’s legislative session is slated to adjourn Thursday and Billig’s current term will end Dec. 31. After leaving office, Billig said he plans to continue as CEO and part-owner of Brett Sports, a company which owns and operates four minor-league sports teams.

Riccelli, 45, is a Spokane native who holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Gonzaga University and master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington. He was first elected to the state House in 2012 and currently serves on the Appropriations and Local Government committees and chairs the Health Care and Wellness Committee.

Riccelli is the community relations manager for the Community Health Association of Spokane and has been an adjunct instructor at Eastern Washington University’s College of Health Science and Public Health and worked as an operations manager for the Northeast Community Center. From 2007-10, he was eastern Washington director for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, and from 2010-12 was senior policy advisor for then-Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, now Spokane’s newly elected mayor.

Thus far, Hill and Stuckart are the two declared candidates for Riccelli’s pending House seat.

Hill, 41, is a private practice attorney in Spokane focused on civil litigation, family law, and business and entertainment law. In 2022, she mounted an unsuccessful challenge against longtime Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, who announced In February that she will be leaving Congress when her current term expires.

Stuckart, 52, is another Spokane native who currently serves as executive director of the Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium. He was the Spokane City Council president from 2012-19 and previously worked as executive director of Communities in Schools of Spokane County and as a regional manager for Tickets West.

Voters within Spokane city limit have enabled Democrats to keep control of the local legislative seats inside a larger region which is more conservative and largely supportive of Republican candidates over the past decade.