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Four applicants for three spots

Republican Party leaders will keep three and throw out one in their quest to help find a new Island County commissioner.

The deadline to apply for the appointment to fill Mike Shelton’s seat was Friday and there were no surprises. Only the four previously-announced candidates applied.

A news release from William F. “De” Dennis, party chairman, said the applicants include Reece Rose, a South Whidbey resident who once ran for county commissioner; Suzanne Sinclair, Island County auditor; Phil Bakke, Island County planning director; and Chris Strow, 10th District state representative.

Party officials will select three of the four applicants to forward to the remaining two Island County commissioners, Mac McDowell and John Dean, who will make the final decision. In the event they can’t agree, the decision will go to the governor.

Winnowing the names to three will not be an entirely public process. Dennis said in the news release that the “voting members of the Island County Central Committee will be receiving invitations to one of three regional meetings to openly and candidly discuss issues concerning the citizens of Island County and the Island County Republican Party. The locations, dates and times will be included in the invitations.”

The News-Times learned details of two of the meetings from other sources. The first meeting is set for Friday, Aug. 10, at 7 p.m. at 5570 Woodard Ave., Freeland, and the second is Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. at GOP headquarters, 390 Midway Blvd. Suite A103, Oak Harbor. The meeting on Camano Island had not been set as of Tuesday.

It probably wouldn’t do the public much good to crash the meetings. The notice announcing the dates stated that any person not invited “will be asked to leave the reception.”

Dennis confirmed by telephone Tuesday that those meetings are not for the public. “They’ll not be permitted in the facility, they’re private receptions,” he said. “We’re going to ask some pretty pointed questions.”

However, the Republicans have made provisions for members of the public of any political persuasion to meet and query the candidates. The only firm date is Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. at party headquarters in Oak Harbor, before the Central Committee’s votes on the candidates. Candidates will speak and answer questions prior to the vote, Dennis said. The names of the three finalists will be forwarded to the commissioners the next day.

A less formal meet-the-candidates gathering is also planned, probably Aug. 27 or 28, also at GOP headquarters. “We’ll have a forum for everyone,” Dennis said. He couldn’t confirm the date until he heard back from Camano Island Republicans.

Shelton’s resignation is effective Aug. 31. He quit after 15 years of service to take a job in the insurance industry in Olympia.

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