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Commissioners pick Bakke to replace Shelton

COUPEVILLE – Island County Commissioners picked planning director Phil Bakke during a special meeting Wednesday night to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Mike Shelton.

Commissioners interviewed three Republican candidates before choosing Bakke over Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair and GOP party activist Reece Rose.

“It’s an honor,” Bakke said after the commissioners emerged from a closed-door executive session and announced their decision.

“The position is very important, it affects a lot of people’s lives,” Bakke said, on issues ranging from health, to land use, to public safety.

Shelton announced plans in mid-July to step down as commissioner, a post he has held for 15 years, to take a job in Olympia as executive director of the Washington Counties Insurance Fund. Bakke has worked for Island County for 12 years, the last eight as director of the county planning department.

Commissioners questioned each candidate for roughly 15 minutes. Questions focused on Freeland issues, affordable housing, and the county’s top objectives over the next decade.

Shelton’s resignation was effective Sept. 1, but Bakke said a swearing-in ceremony had not yet been scheduled.

Bakke said Jeff Tate, the planning department’s assistant director, would likely become the interim director of the planning department.

“He is the most logical choice to be appointed,” Bakke said. “He certainly is the most capable. There won’t even be a hiccup.”

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