Beleaguered candidate turns Democrat
July 3, 2008 · Updated 4:58 PM
Dont count Jay Wallace out of the run for Island County Sheriff.
Hes suffered setbacks, to say the least. Since declaring his candidacy last year, he was fired from his job as a sheriffs deputy, is being investigated for criminal conduct by the state Attorney Generals Office, was rejected by the Island County Republican Party and suffered a minor heart attack.
But last Friday, he again filed his candidate registration with the Public Disclosure Commission, this time as a Democrat.
The bold moves means that Wallace is guaranteed to make it through to the November election, unless another Democratic candidate for sheriff pops up and beats him in the primary.
Previously, Wallace was one of four men who were running for sheriff as Republicans. With only Republicans running, that means only the Republicans who vote in the primary would have picked the next sheriff.
Then at the Island County Republican convention, Mark Brown, William De Dennis and Lenny Marlborough received enough votes from delegates to qualify as Republican candidates for sheriff. Wallace, however, received only a single vote and was not deemed qualified to be a Republican candidate.
On the other hand, the Island County Democratic Party doesnt have a process to qualify candidates, which means just about anyone can run as a Democratic candidate.
In fact, the countys Democratic leadership wasnt even aware that Wallace is running as a Democrat.
He certainly isnt running as an endorsed candidate, said Grethe Cammermeyer, the chair of the Island County Democratic Partys Central Committee. He certainly hasnt been in contact with us.
Cammermeyer admitted that shes suspicious of Wallaces sudden change in party affiliation.
The fact that he was rejected by the Republicans is fairly significant, she said. If hes not good enough for the Republicans to be a candidate, why is he good enough to be a Democrat?
Wallaces wife said he is out of town for a few days and couldnt comment immediately.
Cammermeyer said the party leadership will decide which candidate to endorse after the filing period is over. The filing week is July 24 through July 28.
Cammermeyer said shes not aware of any other Democratic candidates for sheriff. She is one of many people who feels that the position of sheriff or prosecutor or coroner, for that matter should not be partisan.
According to the Public Disclosure Commission, the three Republican candidates, especially Dennis and Marlborough, are already enjoying bipartisan contributions from the Whidbey community.
Jo Balda of Oak Harbor was the treasurer for Wallaces campaign, and as a Republican delegate, cast the only vote for him at the convention. But she said Tuesday that shes no longer part of his campaign.
I cannot vote for a Democrat, she said, adding that she could not speculate on why Wallace changed parties.
Trouble started for Wallace on the night of Feb. 7. Sheriff Mike Hawley, a Republican whos not running for reelection, claimed Wallace shirked his duty by not adequately responding to 911 calls from a woman who was allegedly beaten, sexually assaulted and held against her will at a Freeland home. He violated policy by not making physical contact with the caller and not responding at all to the second call, Hawley claimed.
Moreover, Wallace was dishonest in his written statements about the incident, a internal investigation states.
After the internal investigation, Hawley fired Wallace. But Wallace claimed he did nothing wrong and that Hawley was politically motivated. Island County Sheriffs Guild filed a grievance in support of Wallace.
The Oak Harbor Police also investigated Wallace for possible criminal charges based on the accusation that Wallace committed perjury in his report on the incident. The police report was forwarded to the state Attorney General.
Deputy Attorney General Scott Marlow said he hasnt made a decision as to whether hell charge Wallace. He said further investigation is required.
After he was fired, Wallace was hospitalized when he suffered a minor heart attack, Balda announced at a forum in Oak Harbor.
You can reach Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 675-6611.