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First Emerson challenger emerges for 2014 District 3 commissioner race

Democratic candidate Karla Jacks, of Camano Island, says she will run against Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson for the District 3 seat.

Emerson’s district, which comprises Whidbey Island north of Oak Harbor and all of Camano Island, is not up for election until 2014, but Jacks said she is a “newby” who wants to get a head start on fundraising and learning the ropes.

“This way I can walk my way through the whole political process,” Jacks said.

“There’s a learning curve.”

Jacks said she wants to run because she’s observed lack of teamwork among the commissioners.

“Over last the three years, I feel there has not been a lot of collaboration in our county government,” Jacks said. “I want to preserve the lifestyle I have a passion for on Camano Island.”

Emerson is in the third year of her first four-year term. She said Tuesday that she has not yet decided whether or not to seek reelection.

“I have not made an announcement,” Emerson said. “It would not be a safe assumption that I’m running.”

Emerson, a Republican, successfully unseated Camano Democrat John Dean in 2010 but went on to spend the next two years on a Democrat-led board.

Her proposals rarely got traction with her colleagues and her service was overshadowed by a squabble with the planning department concerning a non-permitted deck at her Camano Island home.

The political winds shifted last year with the election of Oak Harbor Republican Commissioner Jill Johnson but her arrival didn’t spell the end to Emerson’s headaches.

Emerson has been a source of controversy since she was named chairwoman of the board earlier this year. She was stripped of her title in July by Johnson and Commissioner  Helen Price Johnson for making decisions contrary to the consensus of the board.

Jacks hopes to foster greater collaboration and a sense of teamwork on the board, ambitions very similar to those Johnson campaigned on during the 2012 race for District 2 commissioner.

Jacks is the executive director of the Camano Center, which provides a variety of services and resources for Camano residents of all ages.

She also volunteers at Camano schools, with the Rotary Club, with the YMCA Program Committee and serves as the president of the Chamber of Commerce.

In these roles, Jacks said she has been an advocate for seniors, students, charitable events, resource outreach and people with disabilities.

“For the last 21 years I’ve been an advocate for our community,” Jacks said.

Jacks has a 20-year-old son, Clayton, who was born with high-functioning autism.

Even though Clayton was non-verbal as a child, Jacks said he has “done really, really well” and is now is his third year at the Arts Institute of Seattle.

“I’m really proud of how well he’s done,” Jacks said.

Jacks and her husband, Jay, a lead fire mechanic for Camano Fire and Rescue, have two other sons.

Lucas, 19, is finishing his associate of arts at Skagit Valley College, and Samuel, a junior,  is a lineman for Stanwood High School football.

 

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