Island County Treasurer won’t run this fall
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
February 16, 2010 · 3:52 PM
Island County Treasurer Linda Riffe decided she won’t seek re-election this year in order to spend more time with ailing family members.
Riffe already endorsed Chief Deputy Treasurer Ana Maria Nunez to fill her shoes. Nunez filed with the Public Disclosure Committee to run for the office as a Democrat.
“This is not the time for someone new,” Riffe said. “Ana Maria will be able to step in and continue on without so much as a hiccup. She’s got the enthusiasm, the youth and the energy.”
The last year has been very difficult for Riffe, both professionally and personally. She lost both her parents. Her husband has been gravely ill for some time. Her daughter was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and recently lost the use of her legs.
During budget cuts in the last year and a half, the treasurer lost nearly half of her staff. She used to have 10 people, but now she’s down to five full-time and one half-time employee.
Riffe, as the county’s investment officer, has also dealt with plummeting interest rates, which drastically cut investment earnings and aggravated the county’s budget problems. It’s all made for a lot of late-night work.
Still, Riffe said she enjoys the challenges of the job and had a tough time making the decision to not run again. She said she accomplished much during her two terms in office. When Riffe, a Democrat, took office, the treasurer’s office was behind the rest of the state in technology and had a long history of findings from the state auditor’s office.
Riffe turned that ship around. She brought technological improvements to the office; for example, people can now pay their property taxes online. Since she started, the state auditor has consistently given her office a clean bill of health.
“I feel I’ve served honorably and well. That’s important to me,” she said.
Prior to running for public office, Riffe was an administrator at Oak Harbor High School and was a business and computer technology teacher for 17 years before that.
Being the treasurer is a big job. The treasurer is responsible for collecting real estate taxes and special assessments for the county, the cities and all the junior taxing districts in the county. The treasurer also collects excise taxes on the sale or transfer of real property, deposits and invests funds for the county and junior taxing districts, administers county debt financing and forecloses on property for delinquent taxes.
Besides the treasurer, seven other county positions will be on the ballot this fall. Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, Commissioner John Dean, Assessor Dave Mattens, Auditor Sheilah Crider have all filed for reelection. So far, Dean has the only challenger, with Camano Island resident Kelly Emerson running against him. The prosecuting attorney, clerk and coroner will also be on the ballot.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.