Just a few days after Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson resigned, a fifth candidate has come forward in hopes of replacing her on the board.
Camano Island resident and Republican Aubrey Vaughan, a member of the Island County Law and Justice Council, announced this week that he is throwing his hat in the metaphorical ring.
Though he decided to run months ago, he is entering the race during an exciting and potentially controversial time.
Next week is the filing period for the general election. With four other candidates running for the commissioner position, Vaughan will almost certainly face a primary election.
One of the candidates could take office much sooner. With Emerson quitting, the two remaining commissioners will get to choose a replacement from a list of three put forward by the Island County Republican party. If they can’t agree, the governor gets to decide.
Vaughan said he hopes to be a strong advocate for Camano Island, which he feels is underrepresented in county government; his district also covers North Whidbey.
And he wants adequate funding for law enforcement.
Vaughan said he’s been active on the Law and Justice Council, even though it’s a 120-mile roundtrip for him.
“I’ve been very vocal on the council,” he said. “I ask the tough questions.”
Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, who co-chairs the council, said he was impressed with Vaughan.
“He’s a very thoughtful, insightful citizen who has volunteered to step up to the plate,” he said. “I think he’s done well in representing District 3.”
Vaughan was in favor of the proposed law-and-justice levy, though it never made it to the ballot; the commissioners were able to backfill much of the cuts to the sheriff’s and other offices that were made during the recession.
He said he believes that the property tax levy may still be necessary someday, though he hopes a stable funding source can be found without raising taxes. He said it’s important that the county is as efficient as possible in delivering services, and he places a high priority on ensuring that the county is an affordable place to live.
Vaughan and his wife, Ellen, moved to Washington to be closer to their son, who worked at Microsoft. They drove from Corpus Christi, where he worked as a supervisor for L-3 Aerospace at the Army Depot, in a fifth wheel with five cats and a parrot.
After scouring the Puget Sound region, they fell in love with Camano Island and bought a house there three years ago.
At age 65, Vaughan has had a long and varied career. He was a “criminal investigator and peace officer” for the Nueces County Sheriff Office and the Texas Attorney General’s Office, he said. He worked for Halliburton in the oilfield services and eventually retired.