In the race for commissioner of Whidbey General Hospital, voters have three very different candidates from which to choose.
That field will be narrowed to two in the Aug. 4 primary.
For those who have been critical of the hospital district over the past few years, particularly about transparency, this is a race in which learning about the candidates, their qualifications and experience is crucial.
The candidates are incumbent Georgia Gardener; Rob Born, a vocal critic of the hospital administration; and island newcomer Rita Drum.
We think Gardner and Born are the clear choices to move on to the general election in November.
Gardner is no stranger to politics. She’s a former Blaine city councilwoman and state lawmaker. She has strong ties to Whidbey Island. As a CPA, she brings a distinct and valuable set of skills and voice to the hospital board.
Gardner is opposed to selling the hospital, or affiliating it, and says she is accessible to the people she serves.
While Gardner said she hasn’t heard public complaints about hospital transparency, she promises she will do what she must to ensure the public gets the information it needs.
Born is also intimately familiar with the hospital, serving as its chief watchdog and critic for years. His in-your-face methods have rubbed some the wrong way, particularly hospital administrators. We share the concerns about Born’s ability to play well with others, but we believe the hospital board would benefit from having an advocate for transparency and change.
Born may be the candidate to do that. We want to hear more about what he promises to bring to the board table.
Drum, who is also seeking the seat, is new to Whidbey and we applaud her desire to serve.
Having spent her career working in a hospital as a lab technician, Drum said she understands the inner workings of the medical field.
Drum said she is in favor of affiliation and sees nothing but positives in the idea.
Having left a previous hospital job under highly publicized circumstances, Drum said her background shows that she has no problem doing what’s needed to ensure things are done right.
We believe that Drum seems to lack a basic understanding of what her role as a hospital commissioner would be. During our interview, she seemed too ready to defer to “official” sources such as the hospital spokeswoman, rather than look at numbers and documents.
Gardner’s and Born’s familiarity with the complex issues surrounding the hospital make them the stronger candidates to move on to the general election.