Library loses, Fire District wins Library loses, Fire District wins

Jessie Stensland

Staff reporter

It appears that North Whidbey voters closed the book on a proposal to build a new $12 million library in downtown Oak Harbor.

At the same time, Central Whidbey voters chose to raise their property taxes levy in order to help the fire district keep up with rising operational costs.

Results in the Sept. 14 election, which was the state’s first “Montana style” primary, were far from final when the News-Times went to press Tuesday at 10:30 p.m., but many of the voting trends seemed pretty clear.

Nancy Conard is ahead of Gina Bull to be the Democratic candidate for District 10, position 1 state representative, by a margin of 1,132 to 548. The winner will face Republican Chris Strow, who was unchallenged in the primary.

“I’m thrilled,” Conard said. “I was running on my track record and my long-term involvement in the community and I feel that’s paying off.”

Mike Shelton, incumbent Island County commissioner looking for his fourth term, is ahead of Republican challenger Reece Rose by 565 to 279 votes. The winner will face Democrat Dean Enell in the general election.

Both Shelton and Rose said the numbers were too preliminary to conjecture on a winner. Nevertheless, Rose was positive about the experience of running for office.

“It sure felt good to be out there talking to people today,” she said. “A lot of them said they voted for me.”

It doesn’t look good for Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair, who’s running as a Republican for Rick Larsen’s U.S. Representative seat. She’s up against two challengers in the primary. While she’s ahead in Island County, she’s losing in District 2 to Larry Klepinger, according to the Secretary of State Web site. She has 38 percent while Klepinger has 41 percent and the third challenger, Glenn Coggeshell III, has 21 percent.

Firefighters with Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue have reason to celebrate this week. Voters overwhelmingly passed the tax levy which will raise property taxes from $1.19 to $1.29 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

With final votes tabulated, 700 people voted in favor of the measure while 242 voted “no.” That’s a 74 percent approval rating.

“It tells me that the people are holding us at a high standard,” Fire Chief Joe Biller said, “and it puts a burden on us to keep up our high standard of customer service.”

The bad news for book worms — or the good news to those who hate tax increases — is that the two propositions related to building a library in Oak Harbor are losing at the polls. The first question, to authorize the creation of a library capital facility area, had just 38 percent approval. While 271 voted in favor, 443 were against.

In the second library proposition — to pass a $12 million bond — even fewer people voted in support. The measure needed 60 percent to pass, but 260 people voted for it and 446 voted against it.

Still, Bob Hallahan, chairman of the Yes-Yes Campaign for the library, said he’s still hopeful that the final voting results will make a turn-around.

“The campaign went well,” he said. “It went for five months and we put out a lot of information and answered a lot of questions.”

Mary Kelly, community relations director for Sno-Isle, said the library’s board of trustees called a special meeting for Friday, Sept. 17, to discuss the possibility of placing the proposed library-building measures in Oak Harbor and Stanwood / Camano on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Whether or not the trustees choose to do so, Kelly said, depends on the closeness of the election results. She said library officials expected to have an easier time passing the propositions in Stanwood since that community has been more positive about the prospects of building a library, as compared to North Whidbey folks.

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