Former Island County Commissioner Emerson seeks Kitsap auditor seat

Kelly Emerson hasn’t left politics behind.

Emerson surprised many by resigning her position as Island County commissioner earlier this month. She is a Republican and represented District 3.

Then last week, she filed in Kitsap County to run for the county auditor position. She is now a Bremerton resident, according to her filing document.

In an interview Monday, Emerson said she found that being a commissioner was a bad fit for her.

“Frankly, it was just a slow process for being able to have any reward,” she said. “It took so long to make even the most minor change. I’m a person who wants quicker results.”

Still, Emerson said she didn’t want the “citizens of Island County’s investment” in her to go to waste, so she decided to seek a different office. She said she’s learned a lot in three years about how county government works.

Emerson said she chose to run for auditor because she’s interested in the diverse office, especially the financial division. She wants to ensure transparency and grant compliance.

Plus, the current auditor isn’t running again, though there is another candidate in the race. Dolores Gilmore of Port Orchard is running as a Democrat.

Emerson said she and her husband, Ken, currently have houses in Oak Harbor, Camano Island and Bremerton, though they may be looking to reduce their real estate holdings.

As a county commissioner, Emerson was controversial from the start. She filed a lawsuit against the county and a former commissioner after the planning department slapped a stop-work order on a backyard project her husband was building without a permit.

The Emersons lost their lawsuit. They later settled the $37,000 in fines and fees they owed the county by paying a $5,000 fine.

Emerson initially claimed she was a leader in the Tea Party movement in the state, but later claimed she was never involved in the Tea Party.

On the board of commissioners, Emerson got into several tussles with her colleagues. She lost her role as chairwoman after she attended a meeting — thus creating a quorum — in defiance of the commissioners’ agreement.

She was also criticized for missing meetings and leaving meetings early. She even left her last meeting early, after announcing her resignation. When asked whether she wanted to hear what her fellow commissioners wanted to say, she replied, “I never have.”

Yet she still had strong supporters in the community, including a conservative blog that’s been her chief defender.