Longtime South Whidbey businessman and elected official Curt Gordon is trying again to win his first island-wide position.
Gordon is running, as he did in 2008, for District 1 Island County Commissioner as an independent. Regardless of his party, or lack thereof, if he finishes in the top two in the Aug. 7 primary election he will advance to the general election in November.
Four years ago, Gordon fell 53 votes short of finishing second in the primary. That honor went to Phil Bakke, who went on to lose the finale to Helen Price Johnson, a Democrat who is nearing the end of her first term.
Gordon, 54, owner of Island Asphalt for nearly three decades, was first elected as a commissioner of the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District. He served 19 years in that position. After losing his 2008 run for county commissioner, he was elected in 2009 to the three-member Port of South Whidbey board of directors. The port is presently occupied with increasing the size of the Langley Marina.
“If everything goes well we’ll go out for bid in June and begin construction in the fall,” he said of the marina. The project was scaled back to a cost of $2.5 million after voters rejected a bond issue to pay for a much larger marina.
As a small business owner experiencing his own problems in a poor economy, Gordon would spend part of his time as a county commissioner trying to improve the economy. He’d like to see regulations on single family home construction eased. “We need policies to make medium income families more comfortable here,” he said.
He particularly wants to see commuter parking in Mukilteo expanded so Boeing and other workers would see Whidbey Island as a friendlier place to live, as well as for tourists to park, walk on the ferry and catch a bus to shopping areas. He’s been working on that complex issue as a port commissioner.
Gordon’s community involvement includes many years on the citizens’ advisory board for how Conservation Futures tax revenues should be spent. The fund has purchased such properties as Double Bluff, Ala Spit and the Greenbank Farm. He said he would like to see the commissioners open the process more to the public and pay less attention to “special interest” groups. He also worries the county is spending too much to maintain the open spaces it purchases, a job which should be done by community volunteers.
Politically, Gordon sees his independent status as a remedy to the partisan politics that he disdains. The board of commissioners presently consists of one Tea Party Republican and two Democrats and they rarely agree on major issues. If he should displace Price Johnson, he said he has a good working relationship with Republican Kelly Emerson and Democrat Angie Homola — or whoever wins the seat — due to his position on the Island County Council of Governments.
“People should elect candidates who are impartial,” Gordon said. “Independence is what I believe in. … People are tired of polarization.”
Price Johnson will run for another term. Also in the District 1 race is Republican Jeff Lauderdale, who announced his candidacy last summer but will formally launch his campaign at a party gathering on South Whidbey next week. No other District 1 candidate is listed on the Island County Republican Party website.