EDITORIAL: County offices need competition
July 3, 2008 · Updated 11:16 PM
Thinking of running for office? Then you might want to start at the county level where most of the elected positions are up for grabs this year.
The filing period to run isnt until the end of July, but this is the time to get serious about running. Youll need to meet some people, get an idea about how much money will be required to run a competitive campaign, and then decide to file. By the end of July its almost too late, particularly if theres a three-person race that requires a primary election in September.
Every four years citizens have the opportunity to stop complaining about county government and do something about it. If an office holder has perturbed you or if you think theyre doing a poor job, either run against them or find someone who will.
You wont get rich as an elected office holder in Island County, but the jobs pay pretty good. Where else can you make about $60,000 a year without commuting?
Its good to see competition even if you think the incumbent has a done a good job. A challenger forces the incumbents to get out more, meet the people, hear their concerns, and answer questions. Here are the offices available, and why someone might want to run:
Island County Commissioner: Bill Thorns position is open. He represents people living on Camano Island and Whidbey Island north of Oak Harbor. The thing is, hes a Democrat. Nobody can remember the last time a Democrat held his position. The Republicans should run somebody simply as a matter of principle.
Sheriff Mike Hawley: Hes done a good job, but deputies are beginning to get agitated due to budget cuts that result in less overtime and positions that go unfilled. An opponent would at least help educate the public on the needs of law enforcement.
Island County Auditor: Suzanne Sinclair, and Republican, is the incumbent. This is a good office for people interested in elections, as the auditor is in charge. Shes been a good auditor, but she did close a number of polling places and required people to vote-by-mail whether they wanted to or not. If that made you mad, run against her.
Island County Assessor: This position, presently held by Republican Tom Baenen, gets more flak than any other because the assessor calculates property values and tax rates. Doesnt matter who the assessor is, theres always a flood of complaints when tax statements come out. Many of the complainers call the newspaper. Thats fine, but if you think the assessor isnt doing his job right, run against him. It sure beats complaining year after year.
Island County Treasurer: Maxine Sauter, a Republican, has received regional media attention because of her conflict with the Washington State Auditors Office. In a nutshell, the state auditor doesnt think she watches the publics money closely enough. She says she does. Whatever, it would make a great campaign issue for a qualified opponent.
Island County Coroner: This position is presently held by Robert Bishop, a veterinarian by training. Maybe someone with a medical degree could give him a good contest. Its the one county job where the customer never complains.
Island County Prosecutor: Greg Banks is the other Democrat holding elective office in Island County. Its always good to have competition for this position. The prosecutor holds a lot of power over peoples lives, and a good election contest helps show the public how that power is being used.
Island County Clerk: Jan Koetje, a Republican, was appointed to the position. Someone should run against her to make sure that the position is held by the peoples choice.
Our system of government depends upon having good people who are willing to run for office. Dont wait for the other guy to run. Do it yourself.