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Fellow Republican challenges McDowell

"Marvin Koorn says he's wanted to run for the office of Island County Commissioner for many years. This week he said the timing is right.If I'm going to do it, I need to do it now, said Koorn, who announced Friday that he will challenge incumbent William Mac McDowell for the District 2 commissioner seat. McDowell is expected to run for a third term as commissioner but has not officially announced his intentions. If he does decide to run, he and Koorn will face off in a Republican primary Sept. 19.Koorn is new to county politics but not to the county itself. Since 1970 he has worked for the Island County Public Works Department and has been roads supervisor for North Whidbey for 24 years. As a county employee he said he sees room for improvement and increased efficiency. He said he represents an alternative to McDowell.I'm not from the right or the left. I'm not a developer and I'm not an environmentalist, he said. I believe in good common sense, logical government. I think we've lost sight of some of that.McDowell was unavailable for comment on Koorn's announcement.Koorn was born and raised on North Whidbey. He is married and has four children. He has served with Fire District 2 for 20 years including 17 years as chief. He holds a bachelor's degree in education from Western Washington.Koorn said morale among county employees is down and he questioned whether the current commissioners have wisely spent taxpayer dollars.I mean, $750,000 for one consultant. Is that the best way to save money? he asked, alluding to the cost commissioners have paid outside planning and legal consultant Keith Dearborn to help write a 20-year growth plan for the county.McDowell has shown formidable strength as a candidate in the past. He has already won two terms as commissioner, capturing nearly 58 percent of the vote last time out. He has been a staunch supporter of personal property rights and lower taxes.But the high cost and lengthy process of growth planning have drawn considerable criticism during the past few years and McDowell has had to defend his position on numerous occasions.As early as last November, Democrat Lynne Wilcox announced she would challenge McDowell for the District 2 seat. So far, Wilcox is the only contender on the Democratic side. Last year Commissioner Bill Thorn became the first Democrat to win a commissioner post in more than 20 years when he defeated fellow Camano Island resident Tom Shaughnessy for the District 3 seat.Mike Shelton, commissioner from District 1 which includes South and Central Whidbey Island, is also up for re-election this year. So far the Langley Republican faces no announced opposition.Commissioners are elected by voters throughout the county, not just from within their district. District 2 covers the greater Oak Harbor area."

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