Write-in jumps into auditor’s race in Island County

Oak Harbor City Councilman Jim Palmer’s name will likely appear on the general election ballot as a candidate for Island County auditor.

As of the Aug. 20 vote count, Palmer has 228 write-in votes while the current auditor, Sheilah Crider, had 12,404 votes. Palmer has 1.8 percent of the vote, more than the 1 percent he needs to get onto the ballot in November.

Palmer has been a reluctant candidate, but that has changed.

“I will definitely pursue this position,” he said Thursday morning, adding that he’s in the process of purchasing campaign materials.

Palmer told the News-Times last Friday that he didn’t plan to file as a write-in candidate for auditor, but he changed his mind after speaking to folks at the state Secretary of State’s Office Monday.

“They originally urged me to sign up, to avoid any confusion,” he said. By filing as a write-in candidate, votes for him will counts even if people don’t spell his name exactly right.

The short path to candidacy has been very unusual for Palmer. Originally, Crider was running unopposed. The county commissioners appointed her to the $67,500-a-year job early this year, after former Auditor Suzanne Sinclair quit.

But in the week before the primary election, Palmer said he was surprised to learn that a number of people from the community had started a write-in campaign to elect him as auditor.

Palmer said people had concerns about Crider’s management of the office and errors that led to the re-printing of ballots and voters pamphlets.

“It’s nothing personal against Sheilah,” he said, “I’m just not sure she’s qualified for the job.”

It was no secret that Palmer was interested in the position. He considered asking to be appointed after Sinclair left, but decided not to because he just won the election to be on city council. But it’s a job that he said makes sense for him, since he currently works as a business appraiser.

“I’m basically an auditor for businesses,” he said.

Palmer’s candidacy means voters will have two Republicans auditor candidates to choose from on the ballot. Palmer said he considered running without a party preference.

“But the groundswell has come from the Republican side,” he said, adding that he’s “more of a Republican than a Democrat.”

Crider did not immediately return a phone call for comment.