Former treasurer announces run for county commissioner

The Langley finance director announced that she plans to run for county commissioner in 2024.

The former Island County treasurer and current Langley finance director announced that she plans to run for county commissioner in 2024.

Wanda Grone, a Republican and Langley resident, said she is seeking the Position 1 seat currently held by Commissioner Melanie Bacon, who was formerly the county human resources director. The two worked together at the county for years.

Bacon said she is planning to run for reelection.

Grone said her knowledge and experience of finances and financial systems will be invaluable to the board.

“I don’t think anyone on the board is looking at proposals and projects through a financial lens,” she said. “The current approaches are not working.”

Specifically, she said the amount of money being spent on social and human services has increased drastically in recent years. Most of the new spending came from pandemic-related grants, but Grone said state and federal dollars often have requirements for local matching funds and spending on the programs sometimes continue after the grants expired.

“This county’s government spending is increasingly being spent more and more on social services and less on roads and public safety – does the general public realize that? Are the individuals responsible for making those decisions cognizant of the wishes of those they represent?” Grone said in a press release.

Still, Grone isn’t only about cutting spending. She said she was in favor of the commissioners’ decision to set a $20 minimum wage for county employees, but she said they didn’t go far enough. She feels that many people with vital jobs aren’t being paid reasonable or livable wages.

On the other hand, she said some department heads have salaries that are too high while elected officials’ salaries are too low. She said it just doesn’t make sense for appointed department heads to make so much more than elected officials.

Grone was elected Island County treasurer in 2015, unseating the incumbent who had been her supervisor. Grone served until the end of last year when she chose not to seek a third term.

Grone said she made improvements in technology and efficiency during her time as treasurer. She said she increased income for the county and its junior taxing districts with an investment pool; paid off a portion of the county’s long-term debt early to save money; implemented multiple new convenient payment options for taxpayers; and streamlined processes.

After leaving the treasurer’s office, Grone was hired as the finance director in Langley. She made headlines when she resigned because she felt her concerns over myriad problems weren’t being addressed, but then she rescinded her decision to leave after the mayor agreed on an action plan.

Grone isn’t blinded by partisanship. She endorsed her deputy treasurer, Tony Lam, to replace her even though he is a Democrat. She said the most important consideration was his qualification in a highly technical job governed by statute.

A seat on the board of county commissioners, however, is all about policy decisions. Grone wants a chance to help bring greater financial stewardship and accountability to county government.