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Fourth Island County candidate puts in bid for Emerson seat
Camano Island resident Kelly Bagley has become the third Republican to file for candidacy in the county’s District 3 race later this year. One Democratic candidate has also filed to run.
The candidates say their desire to run for the seat is fueled by a desire to do things differently than the current leadership.
Bagley, who works as a quality assurance technician for Amazon, said he was encouraged by a few of the Camano precinct committee officers to run. Bagley said he is interested in how the county is planning for future growth, infrastructure needs and water availability.
Bagley has managed a federal smoking cessation program and has served as a missionary in Africa 1990-1992 and again 1993-1997. He settled on Camano in 1997. His father is a retired chief petty officer who worked in avionics.
After watching a recent county commission meeting online, Bagley said he was surprised when Commissioner Kelly Emerson, District 3’s current representative, made no comments.
“I think you’d have something to say,” Bagley said. “I’ll make sure I’ll have something to say.”
Emerson has taken heat over the past year for her history of missing meetings or excusing herself early. Fellow commissioners have also expressed frustration with her lack of involvement in meetings and discussions, in some cases due to a poor connection by phone or teleconferencing.
That said, Emerson’s attendance in the new year has been better and an updated teleconferencing system installed on Camano has made it easier for her to be involved.
In a phone interview Thursday, Emerson said that she has not received any complaints about a lack of involvement in her job. She added, however, that she has advocated for fewer county commission business meetings in the past.
Emerson said she is familiar with all three Republican candidates, but had no comment on who she might support.
Democratic candidate Karla Jacks said Thursday that she believes that Emerson’s performance is “a huge issue” and has raised interest in the election.
“I’m concerned and I know there’s as much concern [in the community] that there needs to be better representation,” Jacks said. “The issues and needs are not being addressed.”
Camano Republican Marc Hennemann said in a recent interview that if elected to District 3, he intends to purchase a boat so he can attend each meeting in person as opposed to using the teleconferencing technology from Camano.
“I’m not criticizing Kelly,” Hennemann said. “That’s just the way she does it.”
North Whidbey Republican Richard Hannold, also running for the seat, said Friday that while he doesn’t take issue with any one commissioner, it is his desire to bring some “common sense and civility” to county commission meetings.
“There’s an awful lot of arguing,” Hannold said.
Overall Hannold said he hopes all the candidates are coming to the table because they are interested in serving the community. Jacks agreed that giving the public a number of options is good for the electoral process.
Emerson’s seat is the only county commission seat up for reelection this year. The District 1 and District 2 seats held by Commissioners Jill Johnson and Helen Price Johnson are not up for reelection until 2016.