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Interim treasurer appointed

With the untimely death Tuesday of Island County Treasurer Maxine Sauter, the board of commissioners appointed the county’s chief deputy treasurer to fill the vacancy in a special session Wednesday morning.

, chief deputy treasurer 2 1/2 years, will serve as interim treasurer until the position officially is filled by the newly-elected treasurer. That person will be Linda Riffe, who defeated Sauter in the election held Nov. 5.

Election results will be certified Wednesday.

Sauter, 70, was found dead at her Oak Harbor home Tuesday morning by a co-worker, who had stopped to pick Sauter up for a ride to work. There was nothing suspicious about Sauter’s death, according to Island County sheriff’s deputy Russ Linder, who arrived on the scene.

Sauter was a 16-year veteran of the treasurer’s office, having served four consecutive terms since 1986. She was a popular figure in the county with a deep concern for the welfare of animals, having been a co-founder of Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation (WAIF) and NOAH, an animal shelter on Camano Island.

According to Dave Jamieson of the Island County Prosecutor’s Office, the state constitution has provisions for filling a vacancy in county offices in the event of a death or resignation. State statute allows for a temporary appointment by the board until the successor — whoever wins the election — is entitled to begin office. Office can be taken by an official once the election has been certified, and the successor has taken the oath of office and filed an official bond.

As it appears Riffe is the likely winner of the Nov. 5 election, she conceivably can take office as soon as next Wednesday, Jamieson said, assuming she has fulfilled all official requirements.

Renouard, who lives in Mount Vernon, said Thursday that with the shock of Sauter’s passing it’s been a difficult week in the treasurer’s office, but that he and staff are keeping things running.

“It’s been hard, but we’re rising to the difficulty,” Renouard said. “You can’t have anything other than business as usual.”

Renouard was a public accountant before his appointment as deputy treasurer a few years back, having run a private practice since 1979. He said his position has prepared him to assume the duties of treasurer, and that the transition won’t be technically difficult.

“It’s not that much more different than mine,” Renouard said, comparing his new position to the one he previously held. The key change, he added, is that the treasurer takes “a more active role in investments.”

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