Letters to the Editor

Elections: Koetje must answer questions

When Jane Koetje was appointed to finish Marilee Black’s term asIsland County Clerk, I shook my head and muttered something about nepotism. After all, Jane is the wife of former county commissioner Gordon Koetje.

But, when Mrs. Koetje fired long-term deputy clerk and fellow-Republican Sharon Franzen, I shook my head again and muttered something about “so much for loyalty if you work for Island County government.”

Mrs. Koetje has the authority and legal right to fire anyone in her office she chooses. But is it the right thing to do? What did Sharon Franzen ever do to you, Mrs. Koetje?

A successful write-in campaign has put Sharon Franzen’s name on the November ballot. She is now running as a Democrat.

Let’s elect professionals to run our county. For everyone who is fed up with the current political atmosphere in Island County, here is your chance to right a wrong.

I’ve known Sharon Franzen for more than 20 years, both professionally and personally. She has always acted in a very knowledgeable, competent and courteous manner. I never once heard any of the other court employees or attorneys criticize Sharon’s job performance or demeanor. I know for a fact that her former boss and both former Superior Court judges thought highly of her.

To fire a competent, able employee only four years from her retirement is a low act. I hope during the public political forums, the voters of Island County will demand several explanations from Mrs. Koetje:

Was Sharon’s dismissal a money saving move? Sharon’s seniority probably means her salary was one of the highest in the office. Jane can now tell the county commissioners she has cut one position from her staff to save a nice amount of money. Sure, but what a screw-over of a dedicated, hard-working employee.

Was Sharon Franzen offered the chance for early retirement?

Is it possible Jane worried Sharon might run against her in the primary election? The timing of Sharon’s firing has raised that issue. Before she was fired, Sharon told me she would never do that. It would be disloyal, she said, to Mrs. Koetje and to the GOP. I admire Sharon for taking that kind of attitude. I’m just dismayed that neither Jane Koetje nor the Republican county commissioners realize loyalty is a two-way street.

Could there be a more personal, more sinister reason behind Mrs. Koetje’s act?

Whatever Mrs. Koetje’s reasons, she will surely have to come up with some good answers during the campaign. I just don’t think her actions were justified.

Too bad the Republican county commissioners didn’t appoint the qualified Republican candidate to head this very important office.

Carol Byng


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