Enell joins county commissioner race

Hoping to add a new voice and bring debate back to county government, Dean Enell threw his hat in the ring Saturday as a Democratic contender for Island County Commissioner.

Enell announced during the Democratic convention at South Whidbey High School that he plans to seek incumbent Mike Shelton’s seat. Shelton who has held the position for 12 years, will face fellow Republican Reese Rose in the primary election on Sept. 17.

Citing the fact that the three Island County commissioners are all Republicans, Enell believes it is time “we had a different point of view representing us in Coupeville.”

“We have three peas in a pod deciding the agenda and determining the results,” he said. “A two-party system works only when both parties are represented.”

The last time a Democrat served as county commissioner was Bill Thorn, from 1998-2002.

Enell, 56, said he will be relying on the Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean supporters who are so active here. If elected, Enell said he will address the current Island County commissioner representation system, which he believes is unfair to voters.

“We have three commissioners to represent each of the three geographical districts within our county,” he said.

Even if Enell were to get 70 percent of the vote from the district defined as South Whidbey, the election outcome would still turn on the more heavily populated Oak Harbor area. With that in mind, Enell said he will be focusing a lot of energy in Oak Harbor to learn what the concerns of voter in that city concerns are. 

Another issue Enell said it’s time to tackle is the county’s budget. He characterizes it as a visionless, knee-jerk operation marked by yearly exercises in reducing services to balance the books.

Enell said he wants to work with county employees and the public to set priorities and formulate a budget which is readable and provides for efficiently run agencies to better serve the public.

This is Enell’s first run for political office. He has been an environmental activist since moving to Whidbey Island with his family in 1990. He is a founding member and former chairman of both the Whidbey Island chapter of the Washington Conservation Voters and the Whidbey Smart Growth Coalition. He is also a founding member of Friends of Whidbey. He has served as a board member with the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, the South Whidbey Children’s Center, and has volunteered as a tutor and coach in South Whidbey schools. Additionally, he ran an online listserve for six years that focused on local and national politics.

He advocates smart growth in Island County and points out that the county was forced into adopting the land use plan it currently uses.

“We are one of the fastest growing counties in the Puget Sound area,” he said. “Yet because of our geographical attributes, we lag the urban densities and sprawl that is evident in other areas.”

Enell believes that the county needs to to exercise the principles of Smart Growth to keep “our communities livable, our natural areas protected and our quality of life high.”

Enell has been married to his wife, Sharon, for 25 years. The couple’s three daughters have attended South Whidbey schools.

With two daughters in college and one graduating this year Enell says he wants to bring more jobs to the island. With Whidbey near the software capital of the world, Enell said he will work to promote our area to hi- tech companies and other related industry.

“These are clean industries with a well paid workforce.”

Enell recently retired from a career that included project management, engineering and software application development for aerospace and high tech concerns. He has has a psychology degree, a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Washington and and an MBA from the University of Puget Sound.

Democrats rally, vow to take back Republican held positions

The South Whidbey High School gymnasium was packed with Island County Democrats Saturday to choose delegates for the state convention. Over 300 people attended, 254 delegates total. Those participants elected 20 delegates and 10 alternates to attend the 2nd Congressional District and state convention. Ten delegates were elected for John Kerry, five for Howard Dean and five for Dennis Kucinich.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks fired up the crowed with a key note address asking Democrats “to win back the county and country.”

Candidates who running to win Republican held seats are Dean Enell for District 1 Island County Commissioner and Nancy Conard and Gina Bull, both of whom are running for 10th Legislative District Position 1. Mark Norton from Camano Island will be running for 10th Legislative District Position 2 against Barbara Bailey.

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