Commissioner Shelton to step down

Island County Commissioner Mike Shelton announced Monday he will resign his position on the board of commissioners on Sept. 1.

Shelton, who has served as the District 1 commissioner on the South End since January 1993, is stepping down to take a job as executive director of the Washington Counties Insurance Fund. The fund is a public agency that was created in 1988 and provides liability coverage for 28 counties in Washington.

Shelton made the announcement in a letter sent to the press on Monday morning.

"After much consideration by myself and my wife Marla, I decided to apply and have been selected to head this organization," Shelton said in a statement. "This opportunity affords me the chance to stay involved in local government, a passion that I have developed over the last 15 years."

Shelton said he was asked to apply for the job with the insurance fund.

Shelton last won reelection in 2003. His current term was set to expire in December 2008.

"I wish to thank the people of Island County for the opportunity that they have given me during my tenure as a county commissioner," Shelton said. "It has been the most exciting work years of my life and I will miss the community interaction that the position provides. I would have preferred that I had been able to finish this term before leaving but the timing of this opportunity does not make that possible."

Shelton said the county is in good shape for his departure, and he said current commissioners Mac McDowell and John Dean will help keep county government on track.

"Island County is in excellent financial condition and is staffed by committed people who provide good service to county residents. I am confident that Mac, John and my replacement will continue to provide the strong leadership to move Island County towards accomplishing the goals that make these Islands a wonderful place to live," he said.

Shelton's final year in office has been marked by intense criticism at times.

He has come under repeated fire for statements he made during the county's takeover of state property at Deer Lagoon from residents who oppose hunting in the area.

He was also criticized for siding with county fair officials after the fair association was involved in a controversial land sale and a dispute over access to public records earlier this year.

Shelton received public kudos, however, for brokering a settlement in the dispute between the city of Langley and the Island County Fair Association over a road easement across the fairgrounds. The settlement ended a court battle over the new road.

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