Representative Strow's move sparks rumors

This being Whidbey Island, rumors are rampant, but so far only Norma Smith of Clinton has publicly announced her intention to seek the State House of Representatives seat vacated last week by Chris Strow, R-Freeland.

“A number of others have expressed some interest,” Kathy Jones, chair of the Island County Republican Party, said Tuesday. “But it’s just Norma Smith so far.” In the past, Smith has run for the state Senate and U.S. Congress.

Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen’s name has been rumored, but Jones said she hasn’t heard directly from Cohen, whose mayoral term ends Dec. 31. Cohen did not immediately return a phone call from the News-Times Tuesday morning.

One name that can be put to rest is that of Island County Commissioner Mac McDowell, whose alleged interest in the state House seat was mentioned in The Herald of Everett.

“I was flabbergasted,” McDowell said Tuesday, recounting how he felt when told about the newspaper column that floated his name. “I have zero intention ... I’m not going to run, rule me out, 100 percent.”

The veteran county commissioner didn’t rule out another run for his present job, however. In fact, he strongly hinted he will seek another term in 2008. “I’m not announcing,” he said. “But I enjoy my job immensely.”

Strow’s resignation from his 10th District, Position 1 seat for family reasons set off a game of musical positions among Democratic hopefuls for the Legislature, who are already gearing up for the 2008 campaign.

Democrat Tim Knue of Mount Vernon, who came close to beating Republican Barbara Bailey in 2006 for the position 2 seat, will run next year for the position 1 seat vacated by Strow. He acknowledged Tuesday that Strow’s surprise resignation had changed his plans.

“If he (Strow) had stayed in I’d have run against Bailey,” Knue said. “But I intend to run for the position that gives me the best chance to get elected.”

Knue’s decision to run for position 1 forced another Democratic candidate, Ann McDonald of Coupeville, to switch to position 2. Her original intention was to run against Strow. As things now stand, McDonald will be running against Bailey next year. Joining the Democratic assault on Bailey’s position will be Patricia Terry from Camano Island.

Meanwhile, GOP Chair Jones, who has been on the job for only two weeks, is still organizing the effort to replace Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair, who resigned to take a job in New York state. Interested people have until Dec. 26 to apply for that position. Jones said she has heard several names mentioned as possibilities but nobody has formally applied. The only prospective candidate she has talked to personally is Art Hyland, a former Island County Auditor who is thinking of moving back to Whidbey Island from Astoria, Ore.

Anyone interested in either position should send a letter of interest with resume and references to the Island County Republican Party, 390 Midway Blvd., Suite A102, Oak Harbor WA 98277.

Jones said auditor applications will be handled first. That appointment will be settled entirely within Island County. Finding a replacement for Strow will be more complex as it involves Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties. At some point a meeting of all qualified precinct committee persons will be held to discuss applicants, but that date has not yet been set.

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