Lavender farmer appointed to Island County board

Central Whidbey farmer Sarah Richards was appointed to the Conservation Futures Citizen Advisory Board this week.

Richards was selected by unanimous 2-0 vote of the Island County Board of Commissioners Monday to fill one of two positions within the Coupeville School District boundaries.

Richards was not present at the meeting but said later that she was excited about the appointment

“I’m really looking forward to serving with the board and continuing the good work that’s on gone before,” she said.

The Conservation Futures Fund is a state-authorized and optional property tax. The fund is used to purchase open space, farmland, agricultural land, and timberland for purposes of conservation.

Richards owns and operates a lavender farm just north of Coupeville as well as a store in Coupeville. She currently serves on the Whidbey Island Conservation District’s board and is former member of the Northwest Agricultural Business Center’s board of directors and a past president of the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce.

Coupeville resident Gary Wray also applied for the position. Commissioner Helen Price Johnson thanked him for his interest, but cast her vote for Richards largely, she explained, because of Richards’ farming experience.

“It is with that agricultural background that has moved me to recommend her as the appointee for that position,” Price Johnson said.

Wray, at times a vocal critic of board proposals, including 2010’s failed Proposition 1, is president of the Skagit Island Counties Building Association, past president of Island County Habitat for Humanity and a member of the Island County Housing Authority and Central Whidbey Hearts and Hammers.

“A high percentage of Island County taxpayers would like to see conservation futures tax sun-setted or eliminated, Wray said in his letter of interest.

“I would be the voice for these citizens on the board.”

Commissioner Jill Johnson said she leaned toward supporting Wray for the appointment. Experience in the development industry and a perspective on the future uses of protected lands is something Johnson said she would like to see more of on the advisory committee.

Johnson added, however, that Richards is an excellent candidate too, and agreed to support Price Johnson’s recommendation as the seat represents a geographical area within the District No. 1 boundaries.

“I respect your choice,” Johnson said.

“I think Sarah Richards brings a lot to the table.”

Board Chairwoman Kelly Emerson was out of state and did not participate in the meeting.


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