GOP turns in list of potential Emerson successors

Island County Republicans made their recommendations to replace former county commissioner Kelly Emerson.

Emerson gave a one-week notice on May 5 and subsequently filed to run for Kitsap County auditor.

With the sudden vacancy, state statute requires that the resigning commissioner’s party — in this case, the GOP —put forth three names for possible selection by the remaining two commissioners, Republican Jill Johnson and Democrat Helen Price Johnson.

Richard Hannold, of North Whidbey, and Marc Hennemann and Aubrey Vaughn, of Camano Island, were selected as possible replacements during an Island County Republican Party meeting Tuesday, according to party Chairman Tim Geist.

Geist said the names were submitted in alphabetical order without ranking them according to vote totals in order to avoid influencing the commissioners’ decision.

The Republican Party recognized that Emerson’s resignation might be a possibility when her husband, Ken, took a job in Kitsap County late last year, according to Geist and Johnson.

Rumors circulated that Emerson might resign, causing members of the Republican Party to approach Geist about the “three names,” he said.

“There was an understanding that it was a possibility,” Geist said. “I had enough information to think about what I would do.”

“As it worked out, we had the three candidates we needed.”

Johnson said she had heard rumors as early as last fall from “reliable sources” within the party that Emerson was planning to resign. When Emerson did not resign at the end of the year, however, Johnson said she assumed the rumors were false.

If Johnson and Price Johnson agree on a replacement from the provided list, the appointed commissioner will assume office immediately.

If the commissioners cannot agree on an appointee from the list, the decision will be punted to the Gov. Jay Inslee’s Office.

Inslee is a Democrat.

All three selected candidates filed to run for Emerson’s former seat in November.

Republican Kelly Bagley also has filed to run for the office.

Bagley’s son, Michael Bagley, also asked to be considered for the appointment, but said he did not want to run for the office in November, according to Geist.

Johnson, who serves as commission chairwoman, confirmed Wednesday that she received a letter from the Island County Republican Party naming the three candidates.

Johnson said it is her hope that she and Price Johnson can schedule public interviews as soon as possible to restore stability to the county.

Johnson said that questions for the candidates will be solicited from the public before the interviews are conducted. She said those questions will be asked by the commissioners.

Hannold is a retired Navy chief who was elected to the Oak Harbor Christian School board. Hannold said he plans to use a common sense approach to governing and vote according public feedback.

Hennemann served in various capacities in the United States Air Force and holds a master’s degree in public administration.

Hennemann said his priorities include public safety and keeping down taxes.

Vaughan serves on the Island County Law and Justice Council and is a former supervisor for L-3 Aerospace. Vaughan’s priorities include law enforcement and keeping Island County an affordable place to live.


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