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Candidate needed in auditor hunt

The search for the next Island County Auditor is on hold until Republicans can persuade a third candidate to apply.

Party Chairwoman Kathy Jones said Friday afternoon that a planned interview session with the candidates today, Jan. 5, had to be canceled because there were only two applicants.

“State law requires three, and only two remain,” she said. The law mandates that the party forward three names to the county commissioners for a final decision.

The party had three applicants to fill the position vacated by Suzanne Sinclair until Oak Harbor City Councilman Eric Gerber announced Thursday that he was removing his name from the list.

Gerber made the decision after learning that gaining one position would require him to resign another.

“It has come to my attention that if I was selected I would have to resign my Oak Harbor City Council position,” he wrote in a letter to Jones. “With the last election I am very excited about the future and want to be part of the future positive changes in Oak Harbor. In addition, Island County may be opening a job in the next few months that would be a better fit and match to my experience and education. This new job would allow me to retain my council seat.”

Art Hyland and Susan Engstrom are the two applicants left standing. Hyland held the auditor position in the 1990s and Engstrom has been an Island County employee since 1995. She presently manages the Permit Center on Camano Island.

Jones said she and other party leaders had anticipated a third candidate would apply by Friday, but no one made the final commitment.

“Several people were thinking about it . . . but we got all ‘no’s’ today,” she said.

Jones urges any Republican interested in competing for the auditor’s position to apply. The only qualifications are that you live in Island County, are at least 18-years-old, and swear to be a Republican.

“We know there are smart, conscientious people living among us,” she said.

When the party has that third applicant, the meeting to screen with them will be rescheduled. The process calls for the candidates to meet with precinct committee officers, who will pass the names on to the county commissioners in order of preference. The commissioners can select whomever they want from the list, however.

Commissioner John Dean said this week the commissioners are eyeing Wednesday, Jan. 23, as a possible date to publicly interview the auditor applicants before rendering the final decision, but that was before today’s party meeting was scratched.

Until a replacement is selected, Dean said the recent swearing-in of Chief Deputy Anne LaCour as interim auditor places the county in good hands. LaCour is not seeking appointment to the position.

“She has a long track record of being a key Island County professional, and her new interim title is yet another shining example of her behind-the-scenes leadership, for which the board of commissioners is thankful,” Dean said.

Meanwhile, Jones will continue to work the phones and beat the bushes for at least one more candidate. Anyone interested should email a resume to her at kathy@kjonesinc.com.

Reporter Paul Boring contributed to this story.

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