Three vie for Island County clerk’s seat
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
July 30, 2010 · Updated 1:43 PM
In the only local race affected by the August 18 primary election, three will face off for the seat of Island County clerk.
Candidates include Carol Ann Fortune, a Republican from Oak Harbor; incumbent Patricia Terry, a Democrat from Camano Island; and Debra Van Pelt, a democrat from Oak Harbor. The position carries a four-year term and pays $70,646 a year.
The two candidates who receive the most votes proceed to the November general election regardless of political party. Here they are, in alphabetical order.
In her first run for a public office, Fortune, a mother of six, described herself as a candidate that is “pro constitution” and one that will fight for the preservation of personal liberties. Although nothing particular spurred her to run for the clerk’s seat, she said the two years she spent as administrative support for the Department of Military Science at Brigham Young University from 1989 to 1991 would serve her well.
“This is a good time to get involved and I feel like I can be an asset to the county and the community,” Fortune said.
Her husband, Shane Fortune, is running against Ana Maria Nunez for the Island County treasurer’s seat.
If elected, Fortune promised to run the clerk’s office in a way that is both friendly and effective. She acknowledged that she has no specific plans on how to accomplish that goal.
“I’ll have to wait until I get there,” she said.
When asked if she believes she is the best candidate for the job, Fortune said her diligence, honesty, patience and “love for God and country” would make her a valuable asset and a solid contender for county clerk.
Appointed clerk in December of 2009, Terry said she has spent the past seven months laying a foundation and hopes to continue her work over the next four years.
Terry made a run for the state Legislature in 2008 when she ran against Barbara Bailey for 10th District representative. She lost with 44.91 percent of the vote. If elected to the clerk’s seat, she promised to fill out her term and not run for another elected position.
“I think your word is your bond,” Terry said. “If you tell people you plan on staying at a job for four years, you should plan on staying there.”
Terry wants to create an office that runs more effectively and efficiently. She has already begun tracking the volume and timeliness of filed court documents, taking corrective measures when needed, and hopes to make improvements in public access and archives.
She also plans to create an annual report, which would offer a cumulative look at the work completed over the past year. While a tough budget season could be ahead, she said the project is realistic but may take a few late nights to complete.
Terry said she was appointed to run a department where none of its employees wanted her there. Most supported Van Pelt, who was also considered for appointment in 2009. The dignity and professionalism in which she has run the office since, along with her education and fresh look, make her the best candidate for the job she said.
Like Fortune, this is Van Pelt’s first time running for a public office. She said she is running primarily because the county’s grim budget forecast will likely spell difficult times ahead and her five years of experience as a deputy clerk will be needed.
“In times like now, I believe we need someone here that knows what they are doing,” she said.
Although her husband is in the military and was recently transferred to California, Van Pelt said she and her youngest son have committed to staying in Oak Harbor for one reason: so she can run for the clerk’s seat.
First on the list of things she hopes to accomplish if elected is replacing the department’s document scanners. The machines, which were purchased in 2006, are so outdated that it takes twice the time it should to scan court documents.
Once completed, Van Pelt hopes to improve access by making public records available online and to broaden the department’s accepted payment methods. Currently, only cash, cashier’s checks, and money orders are accepted. The clerk’s office needs to begin accepting credit cards as well, she said.
Layoffs resulting from possible future budget cuts are going to force the next clerk to roll up her sleeves and work alongside deputy clerks. Neither of her challengers are prepared to do that, and that makes her the best candidate for the job, Van Pelt said.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.