June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:38 PM
"With still a few weeks remaining before the official filing period, most local political races are looking like they'll attract plenty of voter interest in November.Two of the three 10th District positions in the state Legislature will be particularly hard fought.Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, the incumbent Democrat from Camano Island, will try to hold on to her position against Norma Smith, R-Langley.Haugen, a veteran of both the House and Senate, usually dispatches her challengers rather handily. But Smith could be her toughest test ever. As an aide to Congressman Jack Metcalf, Smith has the political and financial connections to make a good run against Haugen. And as a former South Whidbey School Board member and long-time volunteer for youth activities, she is well known and well liked in the community. Smith has already received positive regional attention by pledging to run a clean campaign by submitting her ads to Haugen in advance. Haugen has experience, a position of influence in the Senate, and long years of hard work for her district on her side, so it should be a fascinating race to watch.Just as fascinating will be Clinton Democrat Dave Anderson's attempt to hold on to his 10th District seat in the state House. He is being challenged by an old friend, Barry Sehlin, an Oak Harbor Republican who distinguished himself during six years of service in the House before temporarily retiring. Sehlin ran a year-long campaign for Metcalf's seat in Congress before dropping out due to insufficient financial support. He left the Republican banner in that race in the hands of John Koster, who is taking on Democrat Rick Larsen. Both men battling for Metcalf's seat are from Snohomish County. In Anderson and Sehlin we have two men who have been effective, popular legislators. Too bad they can't both serve, but voters will have to make a choice.In the other 10th District House Seat, freshman Kelly Barlean, R-Langley, is unchallenged at this point. Perhaps it will remain that way. He has impressed Republicans by his fiscal conservatism and Democrats by his conservation efforts and environmental voting record. That could be a hard combination to beat in the 10th District.At the county level, Oak Harbor Republican Mac McDowell will face an all-out Democratic challenge in the form of Lynne Wilcox. A win by Wilcox would give the Democrats a majority on the three-person board for the first time in modern history, so this should be a donnybrook. Mike Shelton, Langley Republican, remains unchallenged, thanks in part to what appears to be the Democrats' undivided focus on unseating McDowell.What all this means to Island County voters is that they're in store for an unusually interesting election season. And who knows what surprises might be in store? The filing period for office is July 24-28. Only then will we know exactly how interesting the first general election of this century will be."