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2010 Elections: Challengers surface for Island County's Dean, U.S. Rep. Larsen

Kelly Emerson will run against John Dean for Island County commissioner.  - Submitted photo
Kelly Emerson will run against John Dean for Island County commissioner.
— image credit: Submitted photo

Island County Commissioner John Dean and U.S. Rick Larsen will both be facing competition in the 2010 election.

Kelly Emerson, a Republican, announced Monday morning in an email that she would run against Dean, a Camano Island Democrat whose District 3 seat is up for grabs this fall.

Emerson said she made her announcement "at a candidate forum in Smokey Point on Friday night." The forum was sponsored by an organization called renewliberty.com and is listed on the Whidbey Island Tea Party calendar.

Emerson and her husband Ken live on north Camano Island. She describes herself as a master electrician and member of the IBEW. Having lived in California and Michigan, she said she left Michigan "recognizing that the same unsustainable California policies were destroying their area."

Emerson's news release criticizes Dean for supporting a budget that cut the sheriff's department, and she's against raising taxes.

Dean formally declared his candidacy later Monday morning, in an email received at 10:55 a.m. He said he is asking voters for another term "to provide continuity, stability, and calm bipartisan diplomacy to the often-volatile processes of government during transition and recession recovery."

Among a list of first-term highlights, Dean cites funding for mental health programs, curbside recycling progress, new public shoreline for Camano Island, and "a balanced county budget that maintains services deemed essential by community and courthouse staff consensus."

Meanwhile, Rep. Larsen's quest for a sixth term is being challenged from both the left and the right. Conservative Republican John Koster, an elected member of the Snohomish County Council, announced last week he will run against Larsen. He lost a close race to Larsen ten years ago after the incumbent, Jack Metcalf of Whidbey Island, retired.

In a news release, Koster compared his "steady conservative political approach to that of the 'progressive' socialist agenda of the incumbent."

Bellingham resident Larry Kalb, whose Web site describes him as "a real Democrat," is challenging Larsen from the left. He's a long-time resident of Bellingham who works in the Finance Department for Whatcom Transportation Authority.

In a news release, Kalb takes Larsen to task, saying he "handed over his political authority to legislate to lobbyists for big business and then showered them with taxpayer money."

Kalb calls the war in Afghanistan, which Larsen supports, as not worth the money. "We could use the $160 billion ... to stimulate job growth," he said.

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