Deputy treasurer faces challenger GOP would not endorse

The race for Island County treasurer is a contest between pragmatism and ideology.

In the pragmatic corner is Oak Harbor resident Ana Maria Nunez, a Democrat and the current chief deputy treasurer. She’s a feisty certified public accountant and a former scientist who’s earned the endorsement of current Treasurer Linda Riffe.

“I love my numbers,” she said.

In the ideology corner is Oak Harbor resident Shane Fortune, a Republican substitute teacher who runs with the slogan “Tax Cuts Now” even though the treasurer has no authority over setting taxes or the budget. He’s argued that it’s important to have officials who believe in low taxes, personal freedom and the Constitution on the inside of county government.

Fortune and his wife Carol Ann, who’s running for county clerk, both declined to be interviewed by the News-Times editorial board and haven’t participated in candidates’ forums.

In contrast, Nunez has been a big hit at the forums, especially when she discusses her qualifications. She’s second-in-command in the treasurer’s office, where she’s worked for more than five years. She’s a CPA and has a master’s degree in accounting and financial management, a bachelor’s in business administration in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in biology.

A military spouse until her husband retired, Nunez started her accounting career with the Navy in 1996 and two years later became a supervisory accountant in a major department, which meant she helped prepare a multi-million dollar budget.

As the deputy treasurer, Nunez said she helped develop the efficiencies in the operation, which are vital with a short staff in times of budget woes. The office, currently at six and a half positions, lost two in the cuts.

“The job of the deputy is to make the treasurer look good. I’ve done a very good job,” she said.

Still, Nunez said voters shouldn’t vote for someone just because he or she works in the office or understands the job completely. After all, she said, Riffe was a school district administrator and became an excellent treasurer.

“It’s about leadership and management skills,” Nunez said, adding that she has those skills. She questioned whether a substitute teacher does.

On the other side, Fortune also has an extensive education. He graduated from Oak Harbor High School and was a district champion in two events in speech. He has bachelor’s degrees in international relations, theater arts, history and political science, as well as a master’s degree in education. He worked for years as a theater teacher, but quit because of the commute. He’s said he now does substitute teaching for the Oak Harbor and Coupeville districts. He also ran a small online business.

Fortune hasn’t discussed any specific ideas for the treasurer’s office, though he’s promised to use the position to push his conservative, Tea Party-friendly agenda.

“As Island County Treasurer, I will encourage the county government to reduce regulations on property, which will boost productivity and economic activity, and will increase employment,” he wrote in the voters’ guide.

He’s also branded himself as an outsider who can bring change. When the county Republican party didn’t endorse him, he said it’s because he’s not part of the “good ol’ boys’ club.”

On his website, Fortune lists a number of issues, but nothing related to Island County or the treasurer’s office. In one posting, he calls for the end of the federal income tax and the elimination of the IRS.

“Our campaign promotes limited government, low taxes, balanced budgets, and personal liberty. We’d sure love to have your help advancing our patriotic and family friendly agenda,” his website states.

Ana Maria Nunez

• Party: Democrat

• Age: 48

• Family: Husband, Carlos, and two children.

• Residence: 7-year Oak Harbor resident.

• Education: CPA, master’s in accounting and financial management, a bachelor’s in business administration in accounting, bachelor’s in biology.

• Work: Current deputy treasurer, formerly worked as accountant for Navy, research scientist.

Shane Fortune

• Party: Republican

• Age: 47

• Family: Wife, Carol Ann, 6 children

• Residence: Long-time Oak Harbor resident.

• Education: Bachelor’s degrees in international relations, theater arts, history and political science, master’s in education.

• Work: Substitute teacher, formerly teacher in Monroe, assistant theater manager, co-owner of small online business.

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