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Jenkins makes it five in District 1 commissioner race
Rumors proved true this week when Clinton resident Ed Jenkins officially announced that he has joined the race for Island County commissioner District 1.
Jenkins, an independent, officially filed to run for the seat Thursday morning before a visit to the South Whidbey Record’s office in Coupeville. He is the latest contender in what is now a five-way race.
The commissioner’s job carries a four-year term and is currently held by incumbent Helen Price Johnson, a Democrat. Jeff Lauderdale and Wayne Morrison, both Republicans, are also running, as is independent Curt Gordon.
Jenkins, 67, is a retired businessman who has lived on South Whidbey since 2004. Not known for being subtle or delicate when it comes to voicing his opinions about matters that are important to him, Jenkins said he decided to run because he felt that he had no other choice.
“I’m madder than hell and I can’t take it anymore,” he said, paraphrasing the famous movie line.
Jenkins has a laundry list of gripes about county government, not the least of which includes this week’s maritime emergency of the fire and subsequent sinking of the fishing vessel Deep Sea in Penn Cove.
He complained that more should have been done, that county leaders should have taken a more proactive role in getting the vessel removed before it sank. Being more proactive is one of his chief goals.
If elected, he promised to spend the majority of his time outside the office furthering the interests of District 1, which spans from Central Whidbey to Clinton, and the rest of the island.
“A commissioner should be more than just sitting in council chambers and voting on different issues,” Jenkins said. “I would spend two-thirds of my time out being a cheerleader for this island.”
Economic development and job creation, he said, will be one of his primary tasks. In fact, promoting the island and its economy is so important to him that he promised to spend about 75 percent of his total pay as commissioner in off-island publications.
The rest would be spent in local publications to educate the public about the goings on of government and he would keep just enough for himself to pay for his transportation expenses, he said.
Jenkins claims a successful and diverse business background that ranges from starting and expanding a chain of retail clothing stores to creating and building four-wheel drive mini-trucks.
Perhaps one of his most notable accomplishments was his ownership of London Britches, which he said he shepherded from a single store to more than 100 in less than one year.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jenkins said he’s also been involved in politics, working on campaigns for President George Bush Sr. and former California Gov. Pete Wilson.
Jenkins ran for the Port of South Whidbey District 3 commissioner seat in 2009 but was defeated in the four-way race after earning just 9.69 percent of the vote. Curt Gordon, his once again political rival, won with 50.76 percent while Mona Newbauer claimed 32.69 percent. Callahan McVay, who withdrew before the election, took home 6.34 percent.
Jenkins said he is aware that some on South Whidbey view him as a controversial figure, or at least have not warmed to positions he’s taken on important community issues in the past.
“I may not be a popular person,” Jenkins said.
“I seem to rile a lot of people up on this island with my opinions.”
However, he said he is not without support and is skilled in advertising, promotion and business. He said his hope is that people will put aside any previous ideas about him and give him a fair shake.
“Give me a chance, listen to what I have to say,” Jenkins said. “Most of the bad rap is undeserved.”