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Republican Emerson takes over from Dean

Kelly Emerson - File photo
Kelly Emerson
— image credit: File photo

Kelly Emerson cast her first votes as the newest member of the Island County Board of Commissioners Monday morning in a brief meeting punctuated by civility.

The meeting represented the first time that three women sat at the helm of Island County government, but it wasn’t a first in the state. Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider said Kitsap County has had three female commissioners serving together in the last decade.

Emerson, a Camano Island Republican, voted in opposition to her two Democratic colleagues in what may be the first of many 2-1 votes. She said she hadn’t had enough time to study Island County Human Services’ contracts with 11 mental health professionals who provide counseling services to low-income people.

Commissioners Angie Homola and Helen Price Johnson voted to accept the contracts so that the counseling services wouldn’t be interrupted, but they urged Emerson to meet with Human Services staff to learn more about the programs.

Emerson defeated former Commissioner John Dean, a Camano Island Democrat, who served only one term. She was sworn in to office last Wednesday along with some of the other candidates who were successful in the general election. As a Tea Party member, she has promised to shake things up in county government.

Besides Emerson, the new county officials are Assessor Mary Engle and Treasurer Ana Maria Nunez. The returning officials include Crider, Coroner Robert Bishop and Sheriff Mark Brown. Prosecutor Greg Banks was sworn in during a private ceremony in his office Monday.

Clerk Debra Van Pelt took office after a November swearing-in ceremony because she took over from a clerk who had been appointed to the position.

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