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Jones takes helm at Island County GOP

Kathy Jones has backed the right horse numerous times as a campaign treasurer. She will now enjoy a different relationship with the political equines as the new Island County Republican Party chairperson.

Jones, an accountant who just completed nine years on the Oak Harbor School Board, was elected county GOP chairperson Nov. 12. De Dennis reportedly resigned the post for personal reasons.

Shortly after securing the position, County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair announced her resignation effective Jan. 1.

Adding to Jones’ workload is the resignation last week of Republican State Rep. Chris Strow, who will have to be replaced by a process involving all three counties in the 10th Legislative District.

In Sinclair’s case, Jones will have the opportunity to try her hand at a similar appointment process used when County Commissioner Mike Shelton quit over the summer.

The GOP’s decision to hold preliminary applicant meetings in private drew criticism from the public as well as Shelton himself. Jones, however, said she agreed with the format.

“It seems logical to do that because it was a process that precinct committee officers accepted,” she said. “I know that there was some controversy over the initial screenings being closed to the public. When you think about it, it’s a job application process and how many initial interviews of first round candidates are open to the public? The important part is when we get serious about identifying the best people for the job, that that process be an open one.”

Jones has been focusing her attention on filling in the considerable gaps in the precinct committee officer list. At a recent committee meeting, a throng of attendees created a desirable problem for the new chairperson.

“I had two and three applicants for the same position,” she said. “There was an overflow crowd of people interested in serving the party as precinct officers and campaign chairs. That’s very exciting to have that kind of energy around you; a lot of very dynamic people involved.”

Although tax season understandably buries Jones in work, multi-tasking is not a problem for the community-minded number cruncher. She takes her newest job very seriously.

“My job is one of a coordinator and leader of the party to provide organizational structure and direction, especially going into the gubernatorial and presidential campaigns, as well as local campaigns for the Legislature and senate,” Jones said. “My job is to make sure that the Republican platform and ideas are put forward.”

The daughter of a former Democratic mayor of Jersey City, N.J., the local accountant has worked on the campaigns of Rep. Barbara Bailey and Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen, and most recently on Jim Slowik’s successful bid to replace Cohen. She has admittedly deviated from the party to which her late father pledged allegiance, but she also emphasized that partisan views have changed over the years.

“I guess as I grew up I had different influences with me and over time have certainly matured in my views of things,” she said. “Now I think that the ideals that the Republican Party stands for are probably closer to what the Democrats of the ‘50s and ‘60s believed.”

Jones has also headed the North Whidbey Republican Women’s Club and has remained active with the group.

Until the auditor replacement process gets underway, the new GOP chair will continue her efforts to beef up the PCO roster.

“I want to make sure our grassroots organization has a firm base and broader base throughout the county,” she said.

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