Price Johnson, Johnson have challengers for Island County

There will be races for Island County commissioner after all.

Just hours before press time, Gary Wray, a Coupeville Republican and business owner, filed against incumbent Helen Price Johnson, a Clinton Democrat representing District 1 — South and Central Whidbey.

Also, two previously undeclared candidates filed this week to run against Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson, a Republican who is seeking her second term. The seat represents District 2, which is roughly the city of Oak Harbor.

Dustin Amundson, a firefighter and county employee, is running against Johnson as a Republican. John Fowkes, a former small business owner and a community volunteer, filed to run as a Democrat.

As of Friday at 2 p.m., no one had filed against Island County Superior Court judges Alan Hancock and Vickie Churchill.

Several previously declared candidates are running against the state representative running in District 10, which includes Whidbey Island.

Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, is being challenged by Democrat Angie Homola, a former county commissioner, and Democrat Nick Petrish, a Mount Vernon electrician.

Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, will face Michael Scott, a Libertarian from Camano Island.

Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Stanwood, will vie against Doris Brevoort, a Mount Vernon Democrat.

Wray is a longtime Coupeville resident in the construction industry. He currently owns Wray Brothers, LLC. His decision to run was made late this week.

“I’ve been wrestling with this for a long time and finally made the decision to do it,” Wray said.

He described Price Johnson as a friend, and that he wants to run a campaign on his “own merits,” but that he’s not satisfied with how the budget has been handled, that the Island County Sheriff’s Office and other essential services deserved greater funding. He also referenced Island Transit and its near financial collapse in 2014.

“That goes without saying,” he said.

The race for District 2 commissioner may be lively with three candidates running.

As a county employee, Amundson said he has concerns about leadership, especially when it comes to communication with staff.

“The relations between employees and management could be better,” he said. “Letting your people know what’s going on will help everyone.”

Amundson has worked at the county transfer station as a solid waste technician assigned to moderate-risk waste for 10 years, but he said he handed in his letter of resignation this week. He wants to focus more time on being a firefighter and he also felt it would be “ethically questionable” to run for commissioner while working for the county, he said.

His main motivation for running, he said, is his wish to serve. He’s a paid on-call firefighter with the Oak Harbor Fire Department and a volunteer firefighter with North Whidbey Fire. He teaches at the fire academy a class about dealing with hazardous materials; he said he found that he loves teaching and is good at it.

He served in the Navy from 1991 to 1999 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. He was an aircraft mechanic specializing in hazardous waste.

Fowkes could not be reached for comment. His campaign webpage shows that he raised $1,000 in donations to pay the filing fee.

The website states that he is a 1987 Oak Harbor High School graduate and was a member of the honor society at Skagit Valley College. He’s also a Navy veteran and ran a business with his wife, Penny, on Pioneer Way for seven years. More recently, he’s been coaching theater class for Home Connections and has volunteered for several organizations.

“John is a dedicated and professional individual who has demonstrated his ability to problem solve and communicate with people in all walks of life, and will be the voice of the people in District 2,” his website states.