Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christine Cribb announced she is leaving the chamber to seek appointment to retiring Sen. Barbara Bailey’s seat in Olympia. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christine Cribb announced she is leaving the chamber to seek appointment to retiring Sen. Barbara Bailey’s seat in Olympia. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor chamber director seeks appointment to Senate seat

After five years leading the Oak Harbor business community, Christine Cribb is ready to move up.

On Tuesday, the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce executive director announced her intention to fill outgoing Sen. Barbara Bailey’s physically small but metaphorically large shoes.

Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, recently said she is retiring from the state Senate, effective Sept. 30.

Precinct committee officers from District 10, which encompasses parts of Skagit and Snohomish counties and all of Island County, will select three candidates to fill Bailey’s vacated seat. County commissioners from those three areas will vote to appoint one of the three candidates to take on the role until November 2020, which would have been the end of Bailey’s term.

The seat will then be up for grabs in the 2020 general election.

Cribb said the outgoing senator encouraged her to throw in her hat for appointment to the seat.

“And I’m going to go for it,” she said.

Cribb said she’s hoping to “carry on the legacy” that Bailey built. The District 10 senator is in her second term and served as chairwoman on the higher education committee and as a member of the health care and budget-writing committee. Bailey also spent five terms in the House of Representatives prior to election to the Senate in 2012.

Cribb said her priorities include reducing regulations on small businesses, addressing the “epidemic of homelessness” and preventing tax increases or cutting taxes.

“Our state is in some interesting turmoil when it comes to things like all the new taxes,”she said.

Cribb said her work as chamber director taught her to listen well, which would be an advantage as a legislator.

During her tenure, Cribb oversaw the doubling of chamber membership, revenue and the number of events held by the organization.

If she wins the appointment, Cribb will have to run in the November 2020 election to continue in the position.

Already, Cribb has a potential 2020 opponent, current Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, who announced earlier this month her intention to run for the seat as a Democrat.

Price Johnson is in her third term as county commissioner of District 1, which encompasses Central and South Whidbey.

Cribb, who will run as a Republican, served as president of the Oak Harbor school board until 2015, during which she said she learned a lot about state budgets and funding allocation.

Cribb will leave her current position by Nov. 15.

“It’s been an incredible experience,” she said. “It will be very emotional to leave this chamber.”

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