Candidate for Island County treasurer fired for filing to unseat her boss

The election season turned a little ugly even before filing week was over.

The candidates filing period yielded a number of surprises in both county and state races — by midday Friday — not the least of which was in the race for Island County treasurer.

Wanda Grone, the Island County chief deputy treasurer, filed to run against her boss, Ana Maria Nunez, without letting her know.

Grone is a Republican and Nunez is a Democrat.

Since learning last Tuesday from the Whidbey News-Times that Grone filed against her, Nunez said she deliberated, cried and prayed over what to do.

Thursday, she fired Grone.

“The chief deputy position is one that requires loyalty. It’s someone who is the confidant of the elected official,” she said. “It’s someone I need to be able to trust.”

Nunez said that Grone’s decision to run against her and not tell her ahead of time shows that she can no longer trust her. Grone could not be reached for comment.

The chief deputy is an at-will position, which means she serves at the pleasure of the treasurer.

Nunez said she hired her from outside the county after coming into office.

On Friday afternoon, Coupeville resident Christa Canell filed to run for treasurer as a Republican. She works at Land Title and Escrow.

“Changes need to be made in that office and I feel I’m the best candidate to do that,” she said.

In another surprise, Coupeville resident Becky Wagner filed to run against Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider.

Wagner is an independent and Crider a Republican.

Wagner is the financial director for Senior Services of Island County and formerly the chief accountant at the Skagit County Auditor’s Office. She also worked as a temporary employee in the Island County Auditor’s Office in 2011 and 2012; she helped with “financials.”

Wagner said she believes she can help the auditor’s office to improve.

“I saw a lot of innovation in Skagit County and I think Island County could use some innovation.”

As expected, four Republican and one Democratic candidates filed by press time for the District 3 commissioner seat being vacated by Kelly Emerson.

The Republican candidates are Camano resident Aubrey Vaughan, Oak Harbor resident Rick Hannold and Camano Island residents Marc Hennemann and Kelly Bagley.

Karla Jacks, also of Camano Island, is the sole Democratic candidate.

County Assessor Mary Wilson-Engle, County Clerk Debra Van Pelt, Coroner Robert Bishop, Prosecutor Greg Banks, District Court Judge Bill Hawkins and Sheriff Mark Brown were all running unopposed by press time.

State Rep. Dave Hayes, a Camano Island Republican, drew three challengers for his 10th District position.

Oak Harbor resident David Sponheim and Mount Vernon resident Nick Petrish are running as Democrats against Hayes.

Brien Lillquist, a former North Whidbey Parks and Recreation commissioner and school board candidate, filed to run against Hayes as a Republican.

Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, has one challenger. Camano Island resident Michael Scott is running against her as a Libertarian.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Arlington, also has one challenger. Mike Lapointe of Everett is running against him as an independent.


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