Filing week yields several surprises in Island County

The election season turned a little ugly even before filing week was over.

As of mid-day Friday, the candidate filing period yielded a number of surprises in both county and state races, not the least of which was in the race for Island County treasurer. Wanda Grone, the Island County chief deputy treasurer, filed to run against her boss, Ana Maria Nuñez, without letting her know. Grone is a Republican and Nuñez is a Democrat.

In fact, the South Whidbey Record broke the news to a shocked Nuñez Tuesday afternoon. Since then, Nuñez said, she’s deliberated, cried and prayed over what to do.

Thursday, she fired Grone.

“The chief deputy position is one that requires loyalty. It’s someone who is the confidant of the elected official,” she said. “It’s someone I need to be able to trust.”

Nuñez said that Grone’s decision to run against her and not tell her ahead of time broke that trust. Grone could not be reached for comment.

The chief deputy is an at-will position, which means Grone serves at the pleasure of the treasurer. Nuñez said she hired her after coming into office.

Friday afternoon, Coupeville resident Christa Canell filed to run for the treasurer as a Republican. She works at Land Title and Escrow.

“Changes need to be made in that office and I feel I’m the best candidate to do that,” she said.

In another surprise, Coupeville resident Becky Wagner filed to run against Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider. Wagner is an independent and Crider is a Republican.

Wagner is the financial director at Senior Services of Island County and formerly the chief accountant at the Skagit County Auditor’s Office. She also worked as a temporary employee in the Island County Auditor’s Office in 2011 and 2012; she helped with “financials.”

She said she feels she could help the auditor’s office improve.

“I saw a lot of innovation in Skagit County and I think Island County could use some innovation,” she said.

As expected, four Republican and one Democratic candidates have filed for the District 3 commissioner position abandoned by Kelly Emerson.

The Republican candidates are Camano resident Aubrey Vaughan, Oak Harbor resident Rick Hannold, Camano resident Marc Hennemann and Camano resident Kelly Bagley.

Karla Jacks, a Camano Island resident, is the sole Democratic candidate.

County Assessor Mary Wilson-Engle, County Clerk Debra Van Pelt, Coroner Robert Bishop, Prosecutor Greg Banks, Sheriff Mark Brown and District Court Judge Bill Hawkins all appear to be running unopposed.

State Rep. Dave Hayes, a Camano Island Republican, has attracted three challengers for his 10th district position.

Oak Harbor resident David Sponheim and Mount Vernon resident Nick Petrish are running as Democrats.

Brien Lillquist, a former North Whidbey Park and Rec commissioner and school board candidate, filed to run against Hayes as a Republican.

Rep. Norma Smith, a Republican from Clinton, has one challenger. Camano Island resident Michael Scott is running as a Libertarian.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Arlington, also has one challenger. Mike Lapointe of Everett is running against him as an independent.

According to officials at the Island County Elections Office, only county, state and federal races run on even years. Odd years see races from local municipalities, such as cities, towns, school, fire and other junior taxing districts. Langley is in the process of appointing someone to fill Margot Jerome’s seat. Once done, the successful person will have to run in the 2015 general election to fill out the remainder of Jerome’s four-year term.