Auditor leaves island for New York position

Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair is continuing the trend of elected officials voluntarily leaving their posts for other jobs after long and fruitful tenures in Coupeville.

A damp-eyed Sinclair formally announced Monday at the county commissioners’ meeting that she will resign effective Jan. 1, to accept a position in upstate New York.

The auditor of 10 years will use her expertise as county manager for Seneca County, where she will not only manage a small airport but deal with planning and public works, the latter of which she worked with during her first two years in Island County.

“It’s like a county commissioner, but not an elected position,” she said before the meeting. “I’m very excited.”

Parting with the county is the downside of the bittersweet move, she said.

“I want to pack these people up and take them with me,” she said with a laugh. “But most of them have families, so I don’t think that would work.”

Born in Virginia, Sinclair has lived in the county since 1984, where she has been über-active. She has lived near her 27-year-old daughter on the island and will now travel to the other side of the U.S. to reside closer to her older daughter, who lives in New York.

“They insist on living on opposite ends of the country,” she said.

Aside from the family connection in New York, Sinclair said she also feels now is the time for someone else to take the helm in the Auditor’s Office.

“It’s half and half, it really is,” she said. “I just think it’s time.”

Commissioner Mike Shelton announced his resignation in July after serving the county for 15 years. Before the remaining two commissioners voted to replace Shelton with former Planning Director Phil Bakke, the Republican Party undertook a selection process that narrowed the pool of candidates to three. Sinclair was one of the applicants who vied for the position.

The auditor and former candidate for U.S. Congress said the party will use the same process to replace her. Even though Sinclair’s position lasts until 2010, her replacement would run in the 2008 general election to retain the post.

Seneca County, governed by a 14-member board of supervisors, has a population of approximately 33,000, roughly half of Island County’s. “It has slightly more than 400 employees, which is actually similar to Island County,” Sinclair said.

The picturesque county will be a positive change for the longtime auditor. The move, however, will be a logistical challenge.

“The last time I moved across the country, I could fit everything in a pickup truck,” she quipped.

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