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County election results certified, winners move in

With Island County election results set to be certified today, two recently elected officials are to be sworn into office immediately, an unusual event that stems from a state law affecting two unique circumstances here.

Clerk-elect Sharon Franzen, a Democrat, is to assume office today upon being sworn in by county commissioners at an 8 a.m. ceremony. Franzen replaces Jane Koetje, who was appointed by the board after long-time clerk Marilee Black resigned last year before her term expired.

Franzen defeated Koetje in the Nov. 5 general election, 12,311 votes to 11,674.

Similarly, although for different reasons, treasurer-elect Linda Riffe, also a Democrat, is to be sworn in to replace Rick Renouard. He was appointed interim county treasurer last Wednesday to fill the vacancy left by the Nov. 12 death of treasurer Maxine Sauter.

Typically, candidates who win an election are sworn into office early in the next calendar year. However, due to the unique circumstances surrounding this election in Island County, state law says candidates filling vacancies should be sworn in immediately after two requirements are met: that the election is certified by the auditor, and that the candidates taking office are bonded as government officials.

McDowell acknowledged that the early swearing-in of two county officials is unusual.

"Sharon's going to be taking over tomorrow," McDowell said. "Even if we wanted to, there would be no way we could stop her from becoming clerk."

Election winners in the other county races, which include those for county prosecutor and commissioner from District 3, will be sworn in at the normal time next year.

Democrat Greg Banks will retain his position as Island County prosecutor, having fended off a challenge by Rep. Kelly Barlean by a margin of 13,207 votes to 10,874.

Though it had its close moments, the race between incumbent Bill Thorn and Republican Bill Byrd for Island County Commissioner District 3 goes to the challenger, with Byrd winning by a margin of 11,809 votes to Thorn's 11,533.

At one point last week, with some 3,000 ballots still to count, Thorn had closed the lead to 150 votes.

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