Camano candidate to seek Emerson’s seat on Island County commission

Karla Jacks is running for Island County commissioner as a Democrat. - --
Karla Jacks is running for Island County commissioner as a Democrat.
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Democratic candidate Karla Jacks of Camano Island says she will run against Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson for the District 3 seat.

Emerson’s district, which comprises Whidbey Island north of Oak Harbor and all of Camano Island, is not up for election until 2014, but Jacks said she is a “newby” who wants to get a head start on fundraising and learning the ropes.

“This way I can walk my way through the whole political process,” Jacks said.

“There’s a learning curve.”

The reason Jacks said she wants to run is because she’s observed lack of teamwork on the county commission.

“Over last three years, I feel there has not been a lot of collaboration in our county government,” Jacks said. “I want to preserve the lifestyle I have a passion for on Camano Island.”

Jacks is the executive director of the Camano Center.

“For the last 21 years I’ve been an advocate for our community,” Jacks said.

Jacks volunteers at Camano schools, with the Rotary Club, with the YMCA Program Committee and serves as the president of the Chamber of Commerce.

Jacks is in her seventh year working as the executive director of the Camano Center, which provides a variety of services and resources for Camano residents of all ages.

In these roles, Jacks said she has been an advocate for seniors, students, charitable events, resource outreach and people with disabilities.

Jacks has a 20-year-old son, Clayton, who was born with high-functioning autism.

Even though Clayton was non-verbal as a child, Jacks said he has “done really, really well” and is now is his third year at the Arts Institute of Seattle.

“I’m really proud of how well he’s done,” Jacks said.

Jacks and her husband, Jay, a lead fire mechanic for Camano Fire and Rescue, have two other sons: Lucas, 19, who is finishing his associate of arts at Skagit Valley College; and Samuel, a junior who  is a lineman for Stanwood High School football.

Emerson, in the third year of a four-year term, said Tuesday she has not decided whether to run again.

“I have not made an announcement,” Emerson said. “It would not be a safe assumption that I’m running.”

Emerson has been under scrutiny since she was named the chairwoman of the board earlier this year, and then stripped of her title in July after commissioners questioned her work ethic, ability to lead and willingness to proceed according to board consensus.


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