Chumleigh vs. Kellzilla: Man protests county commissioner
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
June 23, 2011 · 9:22 AM
A Camano Island man who’s upset with Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson and her “Tea Party agenda” has coined a term he hopes will catch on.
It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but Michael Mielnik believes the ham-handed epithet conveys his message. Kelly Emerson, he opined, is a dangerous, throwback monster akin to Godzilla.
“Here’s a commissioner who not only flouts the rules, but is breaking the law,” Mielnik said, referring to a backyard construction project Emerson’s husband started without getting a permit and the couple’s subsequent lawsuit against the county. “The whole thing is so bizarre I have trouble explaining it.”
Mielnik protested Monday morning outside the commissioners’ hearing room in Coupeville. He wore an Uncle Sam hat and waved a sign that said, “Kellzilla. Criminal Insanity or just Malevolent?”
The sign ends with “Make ‘Em Pay,” a reference to the $37,000 in fines the Emersons have incurred — so far — for violations of the county building code, critical areas ordinance and the zoning ordinance.
Inside the hearing room, Emerson was unperturbed. She noted it wasn’t the first time someone’s protested her and she’s not sure if it’s a good or bad thing.
“Free speech is great,” she said. “I would fight to defend it for him. In fact, I do everyday.”
Mielnik has plans beyond his one-man protest. He’s planning an eventual recall effort, hopes to sell anti-Emerson T-shirts and has started a related website. The name of the website contains a profanity that’s a synonym for guano.
Mielnik describes himself as a satirist and a New Vaudeville legend; he’s well known as Chumleigh in certain circles. He said he’s a liberal, but has plenty of “reasonable” conservative friends who are also concerned about Emerson. He feels that Emerson’s viewpoint on everything, including county planning policies, are extreme.
“Everything she’s against has been meticulously constructed over 30 years of community consensus under a mostly Republican board of commissioners,” he said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.