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Bakke faces election challenge

Appointed Island County Commissioner Phil Bakke, a Republican, will face at least one Democratic challenger in the 2008 election.

Helen Price Johnson, a member of the South Whidbey School Board, announced Monday she is in the running for the District 1 seat on the three-member Board of Island County Commissioners.

Bakke, former Island County planning director, was named to the board last summer after Mike Shelton resigned to take another job. District 1 encompasses all of South and Central Whidbey Island.

In a visit to Oak Harbor Monday, Price Johnson said that she offers “a breadth of experience,” that Bakke can’t match. Bakke was hired by Island County out of college and has been working for the county ever since.

Price Johnson cited her background in the small business community and in education and community involvement. She and her husband Dave own Price/Johnson Construction and they have four children. In addition, she formerly owned Jones Department Store, at one time a Langley institution, that was started by her mother.

She was elected to the school board in 2001 and later reelected. She served as president from 2001 to 2005.

Price Johnson said Island County government needs a change. “It’s time for a change in the culture, to be more responsive and more transparent,” she said. As she sees it, residents are “frustrated ... they want to know their voice is heard.”

She would also like to see the county take a more active role in encouraging small businesses while being careful about growth. “Growth threatens our fragile environment and natural beauty,” she said. “Be smart about how we grow; be in compliance with state policies and not adversarial.”

Price Johnson has lived on Whidbey Island since 1965. She graduated from Langley High School and from Mills College in 1980 with a BA. Her community activities include involvement with the South Whidbey PTA, League of Women Voters, South Whidbey Home Builders Association, South Whidbey Historical Society, South Whidbey Youth Soccer and Langley United Methodist Church, among others.

To date, Price Johnson is the only candidate to publicly announce for the District 1 position. The seat held by Mac McDowell, who represents the District 2 Oak Harbor area on the board, will also be on the November ballot.

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