Duke LeBaron unseats district chairman

Everell "Duke" LeBaron has won a seat on the Whidbey Island Conservation District, beating current district chairman Leonard C. "Len" Engle of Coupeville by three votes.

The conservation district announced the results of the March 7 election on Wednesday.

LeBaron received 116 votes; Engle pulled in 113 votes.

"It was close," LeBaron said with a laugh.

It was a bit of history repeating itself, as well. LeBaron won as an underdog write-in candidate against Engle in the late 1990s in another close contest.

The conservation district assists farmers, rural landowners and others with technical advice and assistance on issues relating to natural resource management and water quality. The board of supervisors of the district are responsible for developing and carrying out programs that address natural resource concerns at the local level.

The board is made up of five members who serve without pay; three are elected members and the other two are appointed.

LeBaron said he hopes to make district services available to landowners with smaller tracts of land, and he said he also wants to make the election process more accessible to Whidbey Island voters.

"I would like to see the election process expanded out to where more people could be involved in it, and have it fall with the other elections, preferably the February election," LeBaron said.

"I would like to see some of the conservation work made available to smaller parcels of property, so that we could work with helping the environment with small plots, as well as larger ones," he added.

Currently, much of the district's work is with landowners who have large farm animals, from goats on up, LeBaron said.

"There are, of course, other pieces of property that could use that kind of help," he said.

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