Gerber joins auditor contest

Two men well-versed in the intricacies of party politics will vie for the Island County Auditor’s position that Suzanne Sinclair will officially vacate Jan. 1.

So far, Oak Harbor City Councilman Eric Gerber and Sinclair’s auditor predecessor Art Hyland have reportedly thrown their hats in the ring.

Gerber, owner of Gerb’s Landscaping, is going into his seventh year on the City Council. A contract with the parks department on Mercer Island has concluded, he said, and he is back to managing his Oak Harbor business.

Hyland retired from office in 1997 when he purchased a business in Friday Harbor. He sold that business and for the last four years has been developing real estate in Astoria, Ore.

“It was and remains my goal to influence sound, conservative fiscal discipline to the county as well as to run the office efficiently, which tasks include a lot more than just fiscal responsibilities,” Hyland said in an email to the News-Times. He’s staying with his sister in Langley during the selection process.

Mary Jane Aurdal, Island County GOP state committeewoman, said the party tentatively plans to hold an open interview session with the applicants, in contrast to the process used to replace former Island County Commissioner Mike Shelton.

Aurdal also said the GOP central committee will this time include a preferred candidate with the list they submit to the county commissioners, who will ultimately decide on the replacement. Party Chairwoman Kathy Jones couldn’t be reached Friday.

A three-county process is underway to fill the State House of Representatives District 10 seat vacated by Chris Strow, R-Freeland after resigning earlier in the month. The position covers all of Island County and portions of Skagit and Snohomish counties.

A pool of three candidates have thus far expressed interest. John Barnes of Camano Island, Joel Edmonds of Stanwood and Norma Smith of Clinton are readying themselves for the interview process. Claire Eberle of La Conner initially planned to make a bid for the position, but removed her name from the list after learning that Smith was applying.

“I think that she’d do well in the position,” Eberle said.

A meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Skagit County Republican Party office in Mount Vernon to narrow the pool, should more people apply, to three candidates. The names of those three people will be forwarded to the commissioners of the three counties in District 10 and the boards will elect the replacement.

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